JERUSALEM - Israel imposed a blockade on Gaza in 2006 after militants snatched Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. The ban on civilian goods and foodstuffs was eased last year but many restrictions remain in place. Here is a list of the key elements of the Israeli blockade:
-- Israel controls all goods coming into the Gaza Strip, except for those smuggled in through tunnels under the border with Egypt.
-- a blanket ban on all weapons and munitions.
-- ban on all "dual use" items which Israel says could be used for making weapons, such as fertilisers, fibres containing carbon, fibre-glass materials, gas tanks, certain chemicals and strong water disinfection materials.
-- strict controls on items such as cement, concrete, drilling equipment, asphalt, steel cables and insulation materials unless they are to be used for projects authorised by the Palestinian Authority and supervised by international organisations.
-- export of goods from Gaza is banned although since November, Israel has allowed the export of two trucks per day of strawberries, flowers, peppers and tomatoes; before the blockade.
-- strict travel restrictions mean Gazans can only pass through the Erez border crossing into Israel in "exceptional humanitarian cases." Around 3,000 people per month secure such a permit, half of them patients and their families, half of them merchants. The ban means the Rafah crossing with Egypt is Gaza's only gateway to the free world.
-- Israel prevents all access to and from the Gaza Strip by sea or air in order to control the flow of goods and people reaching the territory; fishermen may only operate in a strip of water up to three nautical miles from the shore.