Gaza blockade: Israel looks to change policy, but with caution

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Gaza, June 11 (ANI): A consensus has emerged that the attempt to weaken the governing party, Hamas, and drive it from power has failed, three years after Israel and Egypt imposed an embargo on the Gaza Strip, shutting down its economy.ccording to the New York Times, this may now change.

Former British Prime Minister and now Middle East envoy for The Quartet, Tony Blair, was quoted, as saying: "We need to build a legitimate private sector in Gaza as a strong counterweight to extremism."

"To end up with a Gaza that is dependent on tunnels and foreign aid is not a good idea," he added.

Businesspeople in Gaza say that by closing legitimate commerce, Israel has helped Hamas tighten its domination. And by allowing in food for shops but not goods needed for industry, Israel is helping keep Gaza a welfare society, the sort of place where extremism can flourish.

Israeli officials say they have been working for months on a change of policy, but they want to guard against helping Hamas or bringing renewed rocket attacks on Israel.

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

Israeli officials are less convinced than foreign leaders about the benefits of a full-scale tilt toward the business community, but they see room for increased activity.

For Israel, any shift in Gaza 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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