The United States has stepped up pressure on Israel regarding the Gaza Strip: Three weeks ago it sent Jerusalem a diplomatic note officially protesting Gaza policy and demanding a more liberal opening of the border crossings to facilitate reconstruction.
The Gaza borders could be opened today if the US was deadly serious. Until Israel truly feels financial pain, things are unlikely to change very much.
And they should. Reading this recent Haaretz feature about Israeli leaders deciding what goods and foods are allowed into Gaza, it’s no wonder Israel is increasingly loathed the world over. What kind of nation does this and is proud?
Every week, about 10 officers from the Israel Defense Force’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) unit convene in the white Templer building in the Kirya, the Defense Ministry compound in Tel Aviv, to decide which food products will appear on the tables of the 1.5 million inhabitants of the Gaza Strip. Among those taking part in the discussion are Colonel Moshe Levi, head of the Gaza District Coordination Office (DCO), Colonel Alex Rosenzweig, head of the civil division of COGAT and Colonel Doron Segal, head of the economics division. These officers decided, for example, that persimmons, bananas and apples were vital items for basic sustenance and thus permitted into the Gaza Strip, while apricots, plums, grapes and avocados were impermissible luxuries. Over the past year, these officers were responsible for prohibiting the entry into the Gaza Strip of tinned meat, tomato paste, clothing, shoes and notebooks. All these items are sitting in the giant storerooms rented by Israeli suppliers near the Kerem Shalom crossing, awaiting a change in policy.