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Israel lifts four-week ban, allows foreign journalists and aid workers to enter Gaza Strip

Israel lifts four-week ban, allows foreign journalists to enter Gaza Strip
The crossing: Palestinian workers pray near the closed gates of Karni crossing, between the Gaza Strip and Israel, on November 10. Israel has confirmed it will allow some humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip, easing a month-old closure it imposed on the Hamas-ruled territory after a surge in violence.Photo: Agence France-Presse (AFP) / Mohammed Abed

Israel has lifted a four-week ban on international journalists entering Gaza and temporarily eased a blockade on shipments of goods to the coastal strip, the Associated Press (AP) has reported. The announcement follows weeks of pressure from foreign governments and the leaders of major news organisations urging Israel to reopen Gaza to the media.

Israeli military spokesman Peter Lerner said on Thursday that an entry ban on international aid workers was also lifted. "The Israeli side told us that Kerem Shalom crossing would open Thursday for 40 trucks with food, aid and medical supplies," Nasser al-Sarraj, a Palestinian ministry of economy official, told agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA).

The Foreign Press Association in Israel had condemned the ban as a violation of press freedoms. A letter, signed by the heads of the world's biggest news organisations and sent to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, too had failed to bring about a reversal of the ban. The letter was signed among others by the Associated Press (AP), Reuters, the New York Times, BBC, and CNN.

BBC journalist Jo Floto noted that the only countries in the world where BBC journalists are currently denied access are North Korea, Myanmar (Burma) and Zimbabwe. "We don't want Gaza to join that very select and regrettable club," he told Haaretz newspaper.

Crossings between Israel and the Gaza Strip had been closed for more than four weeks since a shaky truce between Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers began to unravel in a series of cross-border rocket attacks from Gaza and Israeli raids into the territory. The radical Islamic group Hamas has controlled Gaza since last June, when it expelled the pro-presidential Fatah movement from the enclave during a series of violent clashes.

Date posted: December 4, 2008 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 331