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Israel's decision today to allow a partial easing of the blockade of Gaza was given a cool response by the international community, while Palestinians demanded the blockade be lifted completely. Aid agencies condemned it as inadequate.

The move, triggered by anger over Israel's bloody interception of the Gaza "freedom flotilla," is expected to end restrictions on food and some other consumer items entering the coastal territory. But there was no relief for urgently needed construction materials for private building or for cross-border trade and movement.

Expectations of a far bigger breakthrough, raised by the row over the killing of nine Turkish activists by Israeli commandos, were dashed in part because Israel's announcement did not give enough detail. Israel is maintaining its strict maritime blockade to prevent weapons being smuggled into Gaza.

"It is good that Israel is giving serious consideration to resolving these issues," said a British Foreign Office spokesman. "But further work is needed. We need to see the additional steps still to be announced." EU officials said they were disappointed by the decision.

Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement that controls Gaza, dismissed the changes as trivial. Its rival, the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, has said the blockade must end completely.

Ehud Barak, Israel's defence minister, warned Lebanon meanwhile that it would be held responsible for any "violent and dangerous confrontation" as a new aid flotilla prepared to sail for Gaza. Organisers say the Mariam, carrying Arab and European women activists, and the Naji al-Ali are to leave from Beirut in the next few days to try to break the blockade.

Israeli media said the shift would mean allowing in previously banned products such as jam, pasta and milk. But this will not stop pressure to improve conditions for Gaza's 1.5 million people with limited supplies of food and humanitarian aid and goods smuggled through tunnels from Egypt.

Experts said a key question was the meaning of a pledge to "expand the inflow of materials for civilian projects that are under international supervision". If this means only the UN, the impact will inevitably be limited. The announcement made no mention of a timeline or monitoring of "dual use" goods by the international community, nor of opening border crossings or permitting exports and the movement of people and aid crucial for the rebuilding a shattered economy.

"The announcement is a welcome step but it still appears to be a baby step, not the breakthrough people in Gaza hoped for," said Oxfam's Olga Ghazaryan.

Salam Kanaan, of Save the Children, said: "Simply easing the blockade by allowing more goods in is not enough. What about sick children who need life-saving medical attention out of Gaza? Will they and their families be allowed to move freely across the border?"

"This announcement makes clear that Israel is not intending to end its collective punishment of Gaza's civilian population, but only ease it," said Malcolm Smart of Amnesty International. "This is not enough."

Tony Blair said the Quartet – the UN, US, EU and Russia – would continue talks with Israel "to flesh out the principles" that had now been agreed. "The decision to allow foodstuffs and household items is a good start."

The EU's foreign policy chief, Lady Ashton, urged Israel to ensure that "many, many more goods can get in to Gaza". Diplomats say privately that they fear weeks or months of negotiations lie ahead.

The knotty political issue here is that the US, Britain and the EU all insist they want to end an "unacceptable and unsustainable" blockade but share Israel's goal of seeking to weaken Hamas, which has more or less maintained a de facto ceasefire since last year's war. It still holds the captured Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit.


Dear All members of FIMA Exco

Assalmu Alaikum
The response to FIMAs call for Action for polio eradication has been overwhelming. We officially launched it on 24th October and the appeal was displayed on the FIMA website ( President FIMA held a press conference in Lahore and the news conference was attended by the office bearers of Pakistan Pediatrics Association, Pakistan Medical Association, Pakistan Islamic Medical Association and Academy of Family Physicians of Pakistan.  It was covered by National and International media. Another press conference was held by PIMA centre in Islamabad, it was also attended by Dr. Aly Mishal who was visiting Islamabad to deliver a lecture in an ICRC meeting.
Enclosed please find its global coverage. FIMA has been quoted at various international health meetings and its services have been appreciated. These efforts are being done as a commitment to our Kuala Lumpur Declaration 2012 and our recent commitments with WHO and OIC. We will be starting its third round to get signatures from Muslim Physicians as a support from all over the world.
Enclosed please find the ppt. on Media coverage.

Dear all,


We have over 100 junior doctors attending the Cracking CT Applications event on Saturday, alhamdulillah - we look forward to meeting you all!

We will be starting at 11am as per the programme - please therefore arrive in good time.

Please also find attached the course guide, containing the full programme, travel and car parking instructions.

Please bear in mind parking will cost £6.80 for the day in the hospital car park.

Best wishes and salams, BIMA Trainees Team

PS. Remember, you will all be receiving a delicious hot lunch on the day! :)

BIMA Cracking CT Applications Course Guide.pdf