Israel's easing Gaza blockade steps come into force, says PM spokesman

12:48, June 22, 2010      

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Israeli security personnel inspect goods at the Kerem Shalom Crossing terminal before it is transferred to Gaza Strip, south Israel, June 21, 2010. The Israeli government on Sunday announced the steps to loosen its blockade on the Gaza Strip. (Xinhua/Rafael Ben-Ari) Israel on Monday began allowing more humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip, while promising continued enforcement of its naval blockade on the enclave, a spokesman with Israeli Prime Minister's office said.

"It's already going into effect today," said Mark Regev during an interview with Xinhua at the Knesset (parliament) on Monday.

Regev was referring to the government decision to ease the blockade on Gaza by widening a tightly-vetted list of 114 items, which have been permitted into Gaza since the Hamas takeover of the enclave in 2007, to include more foodstuffs, medicines and building materials.

"We have no problem whatsoever with Gaza's civilian population receiving civilian goods," the spokesman told Xinhua.

Israel's steps to relax the Gaza siege include expanding the inflow of goods and smoothening the procedure for people to enter or leave the strip, according to a statement released by the Israeli PM on Sunday.

The statement said the Israeli authorities will publish a list of banned items, including weapons and "problematic" dual-use materials, to replace the current list of permitted products, while short of narrating the standards defining the "problematic" materials.

"We do have a problem with -- and for that reason need to maintain the security envelope -- military items and dual-use items reaching the Hamas military machine," Regev said.

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