While the people of Gaza continue to demand that Israel lift its 3-year long siege and allow building materials, electric appliances, medical equipment and car parts into Gaza, the Israeli government announced that it will allow a trickle of Coca Cola and junk food to enter Gaza. These items had previously been deemed a ‘security risk’. But the Hamas government announced that it would reject the junk food, calling it a ‘public relations’ stunt by the Israeli government.When Israeli authorities began the full blockade on Gaza in 2007, they created a list of 4,000 banned items that used to be allowed into Gaza. Now, with the allowance of junk food, there are 150 items that the Israeli authorities will allow into Gaza, with 3,850 items still banned.

After devastating the infrastructure of Gaza in its invasion last January, in which 1400 Palestinians were killed and 30,000 homes destroyed, Israeli authorities have refused to allow the entry of building materials into Gaza, and most of the homes destroyed have remained as rubble with their former occupants living in tents or with relatives.

The items that Israel said they would allow into Gaza include Coca Cola, potato chips, cookies, juice and other snack foods. But the desperately needed staple foodstuffs, building materials, and raw materials needed to rebuild factories and industry will continue to be denied entry.

The 1.5 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip are prevented from leaving by Israeli forces and their Egyptian allies, and no one is allowed to enter the Gaza Strip from the outside. This has led many people to characterize the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip as ‘the largest open-air prison on earth’.

Israel has come under increasing international criticism for its collective punishment of the people of Gaza through siege warfare, especially after its attack on an aid convoy last week, in which Israeli forces killed 9 international aid workers, including one American.