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Israel to allow soda into Gaza, but not rebuilding materials

Israel partially eased its economic blockade of Gaza on Wednesday, allowing cookies, soda, and canned fruit to be legally sold there for the first time in more than a year.

A Palestinian woman carries a tray outside of the family tent in the northern Gaza Strip Wednesday. Israel today eased the blockade of the Gaza Strip by allowing cookies, soda, canned fruit, and other snack foods to be legally sold here.

Mohammed Salem/Reuters

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Israel joined Egypt today in easing the blockade of the Gaza Strip amid ongoing international anger over its killing of nine Turkish citizens in a raid on a flotilla seeking to bring aid to Gaza earlier this month.

Israel removed cookies, soda, canned fruit, and other snack foods from the list of goods barred from entry into the impoverished territory, though it maintained its ban on imports of cement and other building materials that Gazans and international aid groups say the territory needs to recover from the pounding it took in Israel's 2008-2009 offensive, which left much of the infrastructure in ruins and destroyed hundreds of homes.

Israeli officials said the easing had nothing to do with the controversial raid on the flotilla, which prompted dozens of governments to call for an end to an economic blockade that has pushed Gazan unemployment above 40 percent. But it follows a similar symbolic easing by Egypt, Israel's partner in the blockade of Gaza and its Islamist Hamas government.

IN PICTURES: The Gaza flotilla and the aftermath of the Israeli naval raid and Palestinian smugglers on the Egypt Gaza border

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