.
.
.
.

Israel calculates calorie intake for residents of blockaded Gaza

Published: Updated:
Israel calculated the number of calories Palestinians would need to avoid malnutrition under its blockade of the Gaza Strip, according to a study which the country’s supreme court forced the government to release.

“It was part of a research paper that came up in two discussions and that we never made use of,” Defense Ministry official Guy Inbar said on Wednesday after the document was published by Gisha, an Israeli human rights group that petitioned to receive it.

Release of the document, presented in January 2008, shed new light on the thinking that helped to shape the blockade that Israel tightened in 2007 after the Gaza Strip was seized by the Hamas Islamist movement.

Palestinians described the restrictions, which drew international criticism and were eased in 2010, as collective punishment stifling their economy.

The study, “Food Consumption in the Gaza Strip - The Red Lines”, estimated the required daily calorie intake in the territory at 2,279 per person.

The calorie calculation was based on a model formulated by Israel's Health Ministry and was largely in line with average Israeli consumption. According to Britain's National Health Service, the average man needs 2,500 calories to maintain his weight and a woman requires 2,000.

The document said that “in order to maintain the basic fabric of life” in the area, Israel would allow in 106 trucks with food and other essential goods every day. Gisha said some 400 trucks delivered goods to Gaza before the blockade.

Last week Israel delivered 935 truckloads of basic goods and construction material to the territory which has a population of 1.6 million.

Wikileaks has published diplomatic cables that showed Israel told U.S. officials in 2008 it would keep Gaza's economy “on the brink of collapse” while avoiding a humanitarian crisis.

Israel launched a military offensive against Gaza in late 2008 in an effort to end repeated rocket attacks from Hamas, which refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist. Some 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis died in the three-week war.

Low level violence continues and Israel still imposes a rigid trade blockade on Gaza, arguing that it is needed to prevent weapons of arms-making materials into the enclave.
To avoid the blockade, Palestinians have brought in tons of goods through smuggling tunnels dug under Gaza's border with Egypt, with hopes that President Mursi’s election victory would ease the blockade restrictions.

Fifty international NGOs and United Nations agencies called a few months earlier on Israel to lift its Gaza blockade, putting the Israeli government under harsh international criticism.