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Under pressure, Israel to ease blockade of Gaza

JERUSALEM - An Israeli decision yesterday to ease its blockade of Gaza under intense international pressure could spell the beginning of the end of the chokehold that has hurt ordinary Gazans far more than their militant Hamas rulers.

The order to allow in all foods and some desperately needed construction materials brought calls for Israel to go much further and did little to quell the global outcry over the deadly flotilla raid that tried to bust the embargo. With a naval blockade in place and Israel giving no indication it will lift a ban on Gaza exports, Palestinians dismissed the move as cosmetic.

Yet the announcement was an unmistakable sign of Israeli leaders' extreme discomfort with the damage the bloody May 31 flotilla raid has done to their country's international standing - and an indication the blockade's days may be numbered.

Israel made its decision after consulting U.S. and European officials, and a week after President Barack Obama called the embargo unsustainable. - AP

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