Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Israel is really out of control

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Look at this:

For more than seven weeks, the international aid group Mercy Corps has been trying to send 90 tons of macaroni to the isolated Gaza Strip as part of a global campaign to help the 1.4 million Palestinians there rebuild their lives after Israel’s recent devastating 22-day military operation.

Israel, which controls most of what goes into and out of Gaza, has said no repeatedly.

At first, Israeli officials said that they wanted to make sure that the macaroni wasn’t destined for a Hamas charity. Then they said macaroni was banned because they didn’t consider it an essential food item.

On Wednesday, days after American lawmakers raised pointed questions about the macaroni ban, Israeli authorities said that they were preparing to give the pasta a green light.

For the international aid community, the dispute is emblematic of the red tape and political maneuvering that have stymied efforts to rebuild Gaza.

"We’re at the end of our rope," said David Holdridge, the head of Middle East emergency relief efforts for Mercy Corps. "This is just ridiculous. It’s absolutely absurd."

The Israeli restrictions are expected to be a central issue in the coming days when George Mitchell, President Barack Obama’s new Middle East special envoy, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrive in the region for discussions about how to help Gaza without strengthening Hamas, its hard-line Islamist ruler.

"Aid should never be used as a political weapon," State Department spokesman Robert Wood said Wednesday in Washington. "We’ll try to push to get into Gaza as many supplies as possible."

The macaroni standoff drew the attention of U.S. lawmakers who made a rare trip last week to the Gaza Strip.

"Is someone going to kill you with a piece of macaroni?" Rep. Brian Baird, a Washington state Democrat who joined Minnesota Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison in visiting Gaza, reportedly said after hearing about the aid restrictions.

Along with macaroni, Israel has prevented aid groups that are helping Gaza from sending in everything from paper and crayons to tomato paste and lentils. …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

26 February 2009 at 11:26 am

Posted in Daily life, Government

Tagged with ,

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