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Israel's New Humanitarianism

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Israel's New Humanitarianism / London Review of Books

Last week, Israel permitted the transport of jam, halva and shaving razors into Gaza. Since September 2007, goods entering Gaza had been limited to a "humanitarian minimum' of approximately 70 items of foodstuffs and medicines (4000 items were allowed in before the blockade). During a visit to Gaza in February 2009, John Kerry discovered that Israel had banned pasta but not rice, because the latter was considered a necessity while the former was a luxury.

After the flotilla fiasco and the widespread international condemnation that followed, it appears that Israel's policy is changing and that Benjamin Netanyahu's government is actually willing to broaden its definition of humanitarianism to include jam and halva. It is even possible that pasta will soon be allowed into Gaza. Browsing through a partial list of banned items, provided by the Israeli human rights group Gisha, one can only speculate which items will be the next to be allowed to enter Gaza with the adoption of Israel's new humanitarianism.

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Neve Gordon teaches politics at Ben-Gurion University, Israel. Read about his new book, Israel's Occupation, and more at www.israelsoccupation.info

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