Wednesday, October 27, 2010

(NEWS) "Breathing Space", Math Behind Israel's Blockade On Gaza

"Documents recently released in Israel after a Freedom of Information Act petition by a local advocacy group, detail Israel's mathematical formula for monitoring and allowing aid and food into the Gaza Strip.

The formulas, adopted in 2007 by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) after Israel tightened its maritime blockade on Gaza, detailed a formulaic 'breathing space' to assess and categorize the amounts of supplies to be allowed into Gaza and how long they are expected to last before necessary replacement, local daily Ha'aretz reported on Tuesday.

COGAT is run by the Israeli Defense Ministry, and coordinates civilian affairs between the Israeli government, the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) and international groups and diplomats.

The formulas are used for 'regulation, supervision and evaluation of supply of inventories in Gaza,' according to a senior COGAT official speaking with the newspaper, and are 'based on well-known basic foodstuffs, in consultation with the Israeli Health Ministry and in consideration of family consumption habits in Gaza, as published by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics in 2006.'

The official said that the regulations would 'supply the basic humanitarian needs of the Palestinian population,' according to criteria including 'the necessity of the product for meeting humanitarian needs (including its implications for public health in both the Strip and Israel ), the product's image (whether it is considered a luxury ), legal obligations, and the sensitivities of the international community.'

The document allows for factoring in 'the days of (remaining) inventory beyond which the relevant official must pay attention to the deviation from reasonable norms and examine the correctness of the model,' and stipulate long and short-term shelf-life limits for perishables.

Input by the PNA, international agencies, the media and nongovernmental organizations petitioning the Israeli government were among the entities that also affected Israel decisions on quantities and range of goods, according to the document.

The COGAT official, however, told Ha'aretz that, in reality, that the quantity of items that were eventually allowed into Gaza were always greater than the dry regulations would allow." (source)

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