For 1st Time since 2007, Gaza Exports Goods to West Bank

Israel allowed the export of agricultural products from Gaza to the West Bank for the first time since 2007 on Thursday, and officials said more would be allowed in in the coming week.

One truck of cucumbers grown in the Gaza Strip was allowed by Israeli authorities to pass through the Kerem Shalon headed for Hebron, seven years after Israeli authorities shut down nearly all exchange between the two occupied Palestinian enclaves.

Director of Palestinian Crossings and Borders Nathmi Muhanna told Ma’an that Israeli authorities had allowed one truck carrying 10 tons of cucumbers to cross.

An official at the Israeli liaison offices in Gaza, Bassem Hano, said in a statement that the export of goods from Gaza to the West Bank would continue and was planned to include different vegetables and fruits, in addition to fresh fish.

Hano added that the first ton of fresh fish would be exported to the West Bank from Gaza on Sunday.

A meeting was conducted by both the Israeli and Palestinian liaison offices in Gaza in which Israel said there will be “facilitation” to develop the economic situation in Gaza Strip.

Representatives of the PA and Palestinian farmers took part in the meeting, in addition to representatives of the Israeli ministries of agriculture, economy, customs, and the crossings committee responsible for the Kerem Shalom crossing.

Hano added that allowing exports from Gaza to the West Bank came under the civil and economic facilitation approved by the Israeli coordinator of the government’s activities in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, Yoav Mordechai.

Israel agreed to “ease” the siege on Gaza in the ceasefire agreement that concluded a massive military offensive on Gaza over summer, which left nearly 2,200 dead. Until now, however, the scale of that easing was not made clear, and many feared that no easing would occur.

Thursday’s news, however, suggests that there are continuing efforts on the part of Palestinian officials related to the ceasefire agreement to ensure an opening up in Gaza.

Before the Israeli siege imposed on Gaza following the Palestinian division in 2007, Gaza exported fruits, vegetables, flowers, fish, and products to the West Bank.

However, after Hamas won democratic elections in 2006, Israel imposed an economic blockade, which was severely tightened after clashes broke out between Hamas and Fatah and Hamas took full control in Gaza.

The economic siege has caused severe and recurrent humanitarian crises in the tiny coastal enclave, which has been referred to by critics as “the world’s largest prison.”

(Ma’an – www.maannews.net)

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