Israel to sell Gaza produce for first time since 2007

Subject to Health Ministry inspections, the first shipments of tomatoes & eggplants are expected on Sunday.
• This move will help Gaza farmers as well as meet the demands of the ‘shmita year’, when according to religious law, fields in Israel must lie fallow.

By Daniel Siryoti, Reuters & Israel Hayom Staff

 

Following intensive ground work by Israel’s Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories and Agriculture Ministry, a decision has been made to allow fruit and vegetables grown in the Gaza Strip to be shipped to and sold in Israel for the first time in nearly eight years. The process will be coordinated between the Israel Tax Authority and the Palestinian Authority.

A Gaza farmer gathers guavas raised in Khan Younis [file photo] – Photo: Reuters

Gaza-raised produce is slated to hit supermarket shelves in Israel as soon as next week. According to COGAT, a shipment of tomatoes and eggplants would be brought in from Gaza on Sunday.

“Future stages are expected to include a wider variety of vegetables, totaling 1,000 to 1,500 tons. Each ton is valued at approximately 3,000 shekels [$750],” COGAT said in a statement.

“The steps taken are meant to support the Palestinian population while segregating the Hamas organization, which is a terror entity that prevents the reconstruction of Gaza and uses its resources,” COGAT head Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai said.

The move was welcomed by Jamal Abu al-Naja, director of the Gaza Vegetable Production and Export Association, who said he hoped it would help make up for farmers’ losses and eventually encourage working farms to seek bank funding to expand their production.

In addition to helping Gaza farmers, many of whom stopped cultivating their land or sold it to housing developers after Israel banned produced imports following Hamas’ takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007, the renewed imports are expected to help meet the religious requirements of shmita, a septennial tradition in which agricultural fields in Israel must remain fallow and the poor are traditionally allowed to gather the gleanings. Currently, Jewish communities in Israel that observe shmita depend on produce grown and sold by non-Jews or imported from abroad.

The Gaza produce will be subject to inspection by the Health Ministry, which oversees all produce sold in Israel.

 

View original Israel Hayom publication at: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=23963

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