With the residents of the Gaza Strip reporting severe shortages of even the most basic goods, it is being reported that the Israeli Defense Ministry is recommending a partial lifting of the crippling embargo which has prevented the importation of all but a handful of humanitarian supplies over the past several years. The proposal is awaiting the approval of Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
The new plan would allow increased supplies of soup, fish, and canned goods ahead of the holy month of Ramadan, and would also renew shipments of presently banned goods, such as clothing and egg-laying chickens.
Israeli defense officials hope that the move would be a goodwill gesture to help secure a final deal to exchange prisoners with the Hamas government and finally win the release of captured soldier Gilad Shalit, who has been held for years.
The Israeli government has faced growing international criticism for refusing to allow goods into the Gaza Strip, in particular declining to allow cement in to repair the damage done during its invasion earlier this year. Earlier this week the Israeli Navy captured a ship attempting to deliver humanitarian goods to the strip, and has been holding the activists on board since.