"Whether or not the document was a draft, it reflects the calculations that were used to set the policy," Bashi said. "The policy clearly restricted food."
In a U.S. diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks last year, American diplomats quoted their Israeli colleagues as saying the blockade was meant to push the area's economy "to the brink of collapse."
The embargo crippled Gaza's economy and wiped out tens of thousands of jobs by banning raw materials and suffocating trade. Gaza also frequently suffered from shortages of basic consumer goods.
Hamas mitigated ithe blockade's effect by building a network of underground tunnels to bring in food, weapons and other contraband from Egypt, at inflated prices.
Despite the shortages and hardship, at no point did observers identify a nutritional crisis developing in the territory, whose residents rely overwhelmingly on international food aid. Hamas remains firmly in control of Gaza.
In Gaza, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said the document was "evidence that the Gaza blockade was planned and the target was not Hamas or the government as the occupation always claimed. This blockade targeted all human beings. ... This document should be used to try the occupation for their crimes against the humanity in Gaza."
Israel's blockade was suddenly forced into the international spotlight after Israeli naval commandoes carried out a deadly raid on a Gaza-bound international flotilla that sought to breach the embargo in May 2010.
Under heavy international pressure, Israel significantly eased the land blockade, allowing consumer goods to move into Gaza freely.
Construction materials are still largely barred from entering, on the ground that Gaza militants could use items such as pipes and concrete to attack Israel. A naval blockade also remains in effect, which Israel says is necessary to prevent weapons smuggling at sea. Exports remain heavily restricted.
"Israel never saw the people of Gaza as our enemy," said Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev. "On the contrary, we saw them as victims of the extremist Hamas regime, a regime that places its very radical agenda above and beyond the interest of the people of Gaza."
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