Gaza Bonanza: the nuts and bolts of the ongoing occupation
A chilling inside view of how the continued occupation and blockade of Gaza works-the nuts and bolts. This is what i mean when I say that living in Gaza is living in a place where everything-down to the food you put on your table and when and whether you can move is subject to Israeli control.
The same Israeli Ministry of "Defense" unit- COGAT, also operates in the West Bank.
COGAT = OCCUPATION ADMINISTRATORS, in military uniform.
Last update - 10:55 15/06/2009
By Yotam Feldman and Uri Blau
Every week, about 10 officers from the Israel Defense Force's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) unit convene in the white Templer building in the Kirya, the Defense Ministry compound in Tel Aviv, to decide which food products will appear on the tables of the 1.5 million inhabitants of the Gaza Strip. Among those taking part in the discussion are Colonel Moshe Levi, head of the Gaza District Coordination Office (DCO), Colonel Alex Rosenzweig, head of the civil division of COGAT and Colonel Doron Segal, head of the economics division. These officers decided, for example, that persimmons, bananas and apples were vital items for basic sustenance and thus permitted into the Gaza Strip, while apricots, plums, grapes and avocados were impermissible luxuries. Over the past year, these officers were responsible for prohibiting the entry into the Gaza Strip of tinned meat, tomato paste, clothing, shoes and notebooks. All these items are sitting in the giant storerooms rented by Israeli suppliers near the Kerem Shalom crossing, awaiting a change in policy.
The policy is not fixed, but continually subject to change, explains a COGAT official. Thus, about two months ago, the COGAT officials allowed pumpkins and carrots into Gaza, reversing a ban that had been in place for many months. The entry of "delicacies" such as cherries, kiwi, green almonds, pomegranates and chocolate is expressly prohibited. As is halvah, too, most of the time. Sources involved in COGAT's work say that those at the highest levels, including acting coordinator Amos Gilad, monitor the food brought into Gaza on a daily basis and personally approve the entry of any kind of fruit, vegetable or processed food product requested by the Palestinians. At one of the unit's meetings, Colonel Oded Iterman, a COGAT officer, explained the policy as follows: "We don't want Gilad Shalit's captors to be munching Bamba [a popular Israeli snack food] right over his head."