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'We don't want a crossing for plates, cups and tooth brushes'

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By Nicole Johnston

Keram Abu Salem Crossing

We watched the trucks roll into Gaza with goods Israel has not allowed in for more than three years.

And when we waved the drivers down to stop so we could see the cargo, there were those innocuous items; kids’ footballs, packets of pencils, children’s backpacks, kitchen cutlery and sewing material.

Is this a "liberalised" siege - an "easing" of the blockade?

Or is this Israel’s folly on display for the world to see?

From Thursday the goods now allowed into Gaza will include spare parts for cars, engine oil, tyres, parts for the agricultural and fishing industries, perfume and makeup.

In Gaza people see this as a minor modification of the siege.

All of these items are already available here. They come from Egypt and are smuggled through underground tunnels. This inflates the price and the quality is poor.

The Khadr family

But people in Gaza need more than goods.

"We don’t want a crossing for plates and cups, and tooth brushes. We ask them to open the crossing for everything. Not only food. We are calling for Israel, Europe and Arab states to let the construction material into Gaza. It is most important to rebuild the houses and factories and farms."

Zaed Khadr’s house was destroyed during the war in Gaza. He doesn’t have a job, even though he previously worked in Israel for years on farms. But now under the siege he cannot leave. He’s trapped inside Gaza’s borders.

Next door Zaed’s brother, Mohammed, is raising 7 daughters in a tent. His house was destroyed as well.

Thin mattresses are piled up in the corner. A fan stirs the hot air inside the plastic tent. And sitting quietly, are three girls, watching cartoons.

Mohammed’s clothes are worn, full of holes and rips. And he is full of anger at the family’s situation.

He says Israel "erased everything, the land, the trees, the houses, and now we are living like dead people".

Sitting on the balcony of my hotel in Gaza, I’m thinking about the Khadr family.

Mohammed said, "The whole world wanted to cross the sea to help us."

But they failed and until the siege is lifted completely, the world will continue to fail the people of Gaza.

Nicole Johnston is a Doha based reporter. She has been with the network almost five years with stints in London, Kenya, Jerusalem and Gaza. Prior to Al Jazeera, Nicole was a reporter with ABC Australia for 7 years.

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