DEBORAH AMOS, Host:
Israel faces growing international pressure to lift its blockade of the Gaza Strip. This follows Israel's commando raid last week on a ship carrying relief supplies to Gaza. Israel announced this week that it's slightly easing the blockade, but critics say a major policy shift is needed. Sheera Frenkel reports from Jerusalem.
SHEERA FRENKEL: Tony Blair, the envoy of the Quartet of Middle East Peacemakers, says he is discussing some of those options with Israeli leaders.
TONY BLAIR: There's any number of ideas on the table, but the most important thing is to establish the principle. And that is to say that unless there's a good security reason for something not coming in, then we let the goods in.
FRENKEL: Sari Bashi is the director of Gisha, the Israeli Legal Center for Freedom of Movement.
SARI BASHI: Under international law, Israel as the occupying power has the right to inspect shipments coming into Gaza to make sure there are no weapons. So let's do that. Let's check the shipments and allow purely civilian goods in. That's not what's happening.
FRENKEL: Last year, Gisha sued the Israeli government under the Freedom of Information Act for details of the government's policy, including lists of items permitted and forbidden. The Israeli government refused to release the list, citing security concerns.
BASHI: We don't understand why releasing a list of items allowed into Gaza could possibly be harmful to state security. It would certainly be helpful to people trying to get goods into Gaza. And maybe more importantly, it would allow public scrutiny of a policy that just seems to make no sense. Banning margarine? Banning food wrappers? Banning glucose? That is not about security, and it doesn't make sense.
FRENKEL: For NPR News, I'm Sheera Frenkel in Jerusalem.
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