The Israeli government has admitted that its blockade of Gaza is not a security measure but actually an act of "economic warfare" against Hamas, an Israeli human rights group says.
In response to a lawsuit by the Tel-Aviv based Legal Center for Freedom of Movement (Gisha), the Israeli government explained the blockade as an exercise of the right of economic warfare, mcclatchydc.com reported on Wednesday.
"A country has the right to decide that it chooses not to engage in economic relations or to give economic assistance to the other party to the conflict, or that it wishes to operate using ‘economic warfare,’" the Israeli government said in a written statement McClatchy obtained from Gisha.
Gisha sued the Israeli government for information about the blockade, the Israeli high court ruled in the human rights group’s favor, and the government delivered its statement earlier this year.
The documents prove that Israel isn’t imposing its blockade for its stated reasons, but rather as collective punishment for the Palestinian population of Gaza, Gisha Director Sari Bashi said.
In addition, an Israeli government spokesman, who spoke on condition anonymity, told McClatchy on Wednesday that the authorities will continue to ease the three-year blockade but "could not lift the embargo altogether as long as Hamas remains in control" of Gaza.
In a report issued on Tuesday, Gisha said the Israeli military allows just 97 different items to enter the Gaza Strip, as compared to the over 4,000 items that entered before June 2007, AFP reported.
The 1.5 million residents of the Gaza Strip are being deprived at a time when an average Israeli supermarket is stocked with 10,000 to 15,000 different items, Gisha stated.
The report also says that the Gazans are being denied access to goods that have no apparent military purpose, such as ginger, paper, vegetables, and musical instruments.
"(Israel) forbids the transfer to Gaza of large blocks of margarine intended for industrial usage yet allows in small packages of margarine for household consumption," Gisha noted.
"It bans the transfer of rubber, glue, and nylon, which are used in the production of diapers in the Strip, yet allows the transfer of diapers produced in Israel," the Gisha report added.