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Israeli rights group: Blockade policy politically motivated

Israel’s policy of blockading the Gaza Strip “goes way beyond what is necessary for security,” says Sari Bashi of the Israeli rights group Gisha, as talks continue in Cairo over Palestinian demands to ease the restrictions.

“Israel is pursuing political goals in restricting travel,” she says.

An Israeli military spokesman, Maj. Guy Inbar, insists Israel seeks to “enable civilians to earn a livelihood while not allowing Hamas to improve its terror capacities.”

Gisha says Gaza exports have dropped to 2 percent of the level they were before Hamas’s takeover of the territory in 2007 and Israel’s subsequent imposition of the blockade.

A ban on exports to Israel and the West Bank, traditionally Gaza’s main outlets, remains in effect. Gaza farms and factories can sell to third countries, but complex border procedures and high shipping costs render such sales largely unprofitable.

Inbar says the continued separation is necessary on security grounds, alleging that Hamas has exploited direct contacts between Gaza and the West Bank to plan and order attacks.

–AP

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