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Israel Eases Restrictions on Gaza Exports

Palestinian worker Ahmad Hejazi collects carnations for export at a greenhouse in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, 08 Dec 2010

Israel announced Wednesday that it is further easing its blockade on Hamas-ruled Gaza.

A statement from the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the Security Cabinet approved the new measures to help ease the "burdens" of Gazans who live "under the repressive Hamas regime."

Israel says the new guidelines will expand the items that Gaza can export to include textiles, furniture and agricultural products.

Israel imposed an economic blockade on Gaza after Hamas seized control of the coastal strip in 2007. However, Israel eased restrictions earlier this year after a deadly Israeli commando raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla drew international condemnation.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said Israeli's new guidelines were deceiving and would have little impact on most Gazans.

However, Middle East Quartet envoy Tony Blair, Britain's former prime minister, welcomed the move, saying allowing exports is key for creating jobs and revitalizing Gaza's economy.

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

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