However, an incident occured last week at a crossing into the Gaza Strip that gave a very different impression to a senior observer. When Senator John Kerry visited the Strip, he learned that many trucks loaded with pasta were not permitted in. When the chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee inquired as to the reason for the delay, he was told by United Nations aid officials that "Israel does not define pasta as part of humanitarian aid - only rice shipments."
Kerry asked Barak about the logic behind this restriction, and only after the senior U.S. official's intervention did the defense minister allow the pasta into the Strip. The U.S. senator updated colleagues at the Senate and other senior officials in Washington of the details of his visit.
Kerry wasn't the only U.S. official to complain about the pasta ban. Representatives Brian Baird and Keith Ellison also toured Gaza last week and criticized Israel's "idiosyncratic and arbitrary" food aid policies. "When have lentil bombs been going off lately? Is someone going to kill you with a piece of macaroni?" asked Baird.
The IDF agreed to allow lentils and pasta into Gaza last weekend. Laird applauded the move but said it was only symbolic of a generally misguided sanctions system.
"You look stupid and petty and over-controlling when you do this."
(Hat tip: Passport reader Sierra Millman. Check out her reporting on the Middle East here.)
Correction: This post originally misspelled Rep. Baird's last name.
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