Israel agrees to ease Gaza blockade


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s security Cabinet agreed to ease the blockade on the Gaza Strip.

After two days of meetings, the security Cabinet decided Thursday to "liberalize the system of allowing civilian goods to enter Gaza," "expand the inflow of materials for civilian projects that are under international supervision" and "continue existing security procedures to prevent the inflow of weapons and war materiel," according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.

The statement said the security Cabinet will decide in the coming days on how to implement the decision. It did not specify what new goods will be allowed into Gaza or what international supervision will be maintained.

Tony Blair, the envoy for the diplomatic Quartet overseeing the Middle East peace process, said earlier this week during a meeting of the European Parliament in Strasbourg that Israel would change from issuing a list of items that are permitted into Gaza to a list of what is prohibited.

Earlier this month Israel began allowing snack food, soft drinks and other select items into the strip, which is controlled by the terrorist group Hamas.

"Israel expects the international community to work toward the immediate release of Gilad Shalit," the statement concluded.

Shalit is an Israeli soldier who was captured four years ago in a cross-border raid and has been held since by Hamas without visits from the International Red Cross.

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