GAZA. Israel is easing its Gaza embargo to allow snack food and drinks into the Palestinian enclave, Palestinian officials said yesterday, following an international outcry over Israel’s raid on an aid flotilla.
An Israeli official said the new product list, announced hours before President Barack Obama hosted Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Washington, was unrelated to Israel’s May 31 takeover of the convoy that challenged its Gaza blockade.
Israel says its blockade of Gaza is necessary to choke off weapons supplies to Hamas, which is opposed to Abbas’ peace efforts with the Jewish state.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates, asked about Israel’s policy, said Hamas has used humanitarian donations to strengthen its military capabilities in Gaza. “Construction materials haven’t gone for housing, they’ve gone for bunkers,” Gates said.