Pro-Palestinian activists hold down an Israeli commando on the Gaza-bound Turkish ship Mavi Marmara
Pro-Palestinian activists hold down an Israeli commando on the Gaza-bound Turkish ship Mavi Marmara in the international waters of Mediterranean sea early May 31, 2010.

The Israeli government has said that it will loosen the land blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, in a move that is aimed at allowing more civilian goods into the area, while maintaining an embargo on weapons.

Pressure on Israel to end or loosen the blockade has increased in recent weeks due to the death of nine individuals during an Israeli commando raid on a Turkish ship attempting to break the blockade on 31 May.

Previously Israel did allow some basic materials such as food aid to enter the Gaza Strip but the Israeli government has now decided to allow construction materials, which were previously disallowed for fear that they may be used to construct weapons or defences against Israel.

Israel said that the construction materials would be allowed through for use on projects under international supervision.

Israel first put up the blockade in 2007 following the takeover of the area by Hamas, a terrorist group which is pledged to destroy the state of Israel and replace it with an Islamic state.

It is not clear how long it will take for the eased restrictions to take effect.