Ending Gaza Blockade Part of Shalit Deal, Hamas Says

By Haaretz

Published October 17, 2011.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Ending the blockade of the Gaza Strip is part of the agreement between Hamas, Egypt and Israel for the return of Gilad Shalit, according to Mahmoud Zahar, one of the leaders of Hamas in Gaza and a member of Hamas’ negotiating team in the Shalit deal.

Israel agreed to this long ago, in talks with a German mediator, and it is still part of the agreement, Zahar told Haaretz on Monday.

Zahar, who will be one of the Hamas officials greeting the released prisoners on Tuesday, said there are several other issues the sides also agreed to as part of the deal. For one, families from Gaza will now be allowed to visit their relatives in Israeli prisons. Since Shalit’s abduction, such family visits have been banned.

Additionally, in an attempt to increase pressure on Hamas to reach an agreement on freeing Shalit, Israel had stripped Palestinian prisoners of certain privileges and put many of their leaders into solitary confinement. These measures will now be reversed, Zahar said.

Finally, Israel agreed to ease the blockade on Gaza, Zahar said.

Israeli defense officials confirmed that the Shalit agreement marks a turning point in relations between Israel and Hamas. They said that various steps have already been taken to ease the blockade on Gaza in recent months, as part of the unofficial cease-fire between Hamas and Israel.

Now, Israel is evaluating the implications of the Shalit deal for its blockade policy. There are two main possibilities that any future decision to ease the blockade might include. One is to ease restrictions on the movement of people through the Gaza border crossings, and particularly travel from Gaza to the West Bank via Israel. The second is to increase exports of goods from Gaza to Israel and abroad.

There are already very few restrictions on the entry of goods into Gaza from Israel, except for those that can be used to manufacture weapons.

After Shalit’s release, Israel will no longer have any excuse to continue the blockade, Zahar said. “This is what representatives of European countries told us when they approached us about releasing Shalit, and the Israelis made this commitment as well,” he said.

The deal should send Israel a message that power cannot overcome the drive to free prisoners, Zahar added. The only way to solve the problem of the prisoners is by freeing them, he said, and the Israeli media needs to tell the Israeli public so.

Preparations for receiving the prisoners in Gaza have already been completed, including construction of a big stage for the main ceremony in the center of Gaza City. Hundreds of members of Hamas’ military wing have deployed along the entire length of the road that runs from the Rafah crossing, on the Gaza-Egypt border, to Gaza City, since the prisoners will arrive at Rafah via Egypt. The Rafah crossing area has been declared a closed military zone and only 100 VIPs will be allowed entry.

For more, go to Haaretz.com






Find us on Facebook!
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.