Toys for Gaza, after three years

Since Israel's blockade began, shop owners have had to rely on smugglers and pay up to an extra 40% for the goods.

    Israel says the siege on Gaza is about security and making sure the deposed government of Hamas doesn't get its hands on any more weapons.

    So why hasn't Israel allowed children’s toys into Gaza for the last three years?

    Is it to collectively punish the people of Gaza for voting in a party which Israel defines as a terrorist group? Or is there a dual use for children's toys - maybe they can be turned into bunkers or smuggling tunnels?

    Either way, on Thursday Israel announced toys will be allowed into Gaza.

    For the last few years all Gaza's toys have been smuggled in through underground tunnels.

    Moatez Moshtaha says business in his toy shop has gone backwards 10 years since the siege started.

    He used to import direct from China. But since the blockade began, he has had to rely on smugglers and pay up to an extra 40% for the goods.

    Moshtaha has a shipment of toys stored in Israel and has been waiting for it to be delivered for three years. Now it finally will.


    This news was wrapped up in an Israeli decision to "liberalise" the siege on Gaza.

    Instead of only allowing in somewhere between 80 and 150 different types of food products, Israel is expanding the list.

    It says all food products will now be available in Gaza. Before the siege around 4,000 different types were allowed in.

    For many people here this news will simply feel like their jailer is now expanding the menu.

    Israel's announcement doesn't lift travel restrictions for people in Gaza.

    To leave here, you either have to be very sick, own a foreign passport, work for a foreign company or be attending an overseas university.

    If you fit into one of these categories, you may be allowed to leave through Egypt's Rafah crossing, and occasionally Israel's Erez crossing. But even this is not guaranteed.

    But at least from Tuesday, Gaza's children can look forward to some new toys being available in the shops.

    Notebooks for school children will also be allowed in.

    A "liberalised" siege indeed.


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