Israel considers 'loosening' Gaza Strip blockade

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Jerusalem, June 17(ANI): Israel is reportedly considering loosening its blockade of the Gaza Strip following sustained international pressure to end the siege of the territory.

According to reports, the security cabinet- made up of seven of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's closest advisers- met on Wednesday to discuss the issue, and are also scheduled to reconvene today.

International criticism of Israel has increased following its raid on a Gaza-bound Turkish aid ship last month, which left nine activists dead.

"The cabinet is looking at proposals concerning Israeli policy toward Gaza," The Washington Post quoted an Israeli official, as saying.

"Israel does not have a problem with civilian goods reaching the civilian population. Our problem is with Hamas and with them getting weapons, military supplies and dual-use items that could strengthen their military machine," the official added.

Since the interception of the aid flotilla, Israel has gradually expanded the list of items allowed into Gaza, lifting a ban on some foods, including jam and coriander, and shaving supplies.

According to an earlier statement put out by the Prime Minister's Office, the committee will also make determinations regarding whether the steps Israel took to prevent ships from reaching the Gaza coast, and "other matters tied up with this" were in accordance with international law.

Israel imposed the embargo in part to prevent Hamas from receiving rockets and other weapons, in particular from Iran.

For Israel, any shift in its Gaza stance is complicated by the fact that Hamas has been holding one of its soldiers for four years. In addition, Israel does not want Hamas or its associates to gain credit for new relief. (ANI)

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