News / Middle East

Israeli Official: Lifting Gaza Blockade Poses Threat

A top Israeli security official says Israel would face a huge security threat if it lifted its blockade of Gaza.

Shin Bet security service chief Yuval Diskin says Gaza militants have about 5,000 rockets, some with a range of up to 40 kilometers.  He says about 4,000 of those rockets belong to Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that seized control of Gaza in 2007.

Israeli officials say Diskin, who is in charge of domestic Israeli security, commented during a closed door parliamentary meeting Tuesday, a day after the European Union (EU) called on Israel to lift its Gaza blockade.

EU ministers described the blockade as "unacceptable and politically counterproductive."   

Israel has faced intense international pressure to end the blockade since Israeli commandos killed nine pro-Palestinian activists in a raid last month on an aid flotilla headed to Gaza.   

The United Nations announced Tuesday that Israel has agreed to release all of the cargo from the flotilla to the U.N., which will supervise its distribution.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

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