Israel 'must lift blockade, not just for tomatoes'
Published Monday 07/05/2012 (updated) 08/05/2012 17:25
Ibrahim al-Qudra, deputy agricultural minister, said Israel must allow Gaza
traders to export all goods rather than allow selective produce to leave the
enclave based on the needs of the Israeli economy.
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israel must lift its blockade on Gaza and stop limiting exports to the needs of the Israeli market, the deputy agricultural minister said Monday.
The Vegetable Growers' Association in Israel is considering buying tomatoes from the Gaza Strip in response to a sudden price hike in Israeli tomatoes, Voice of Israel radio reported Sunday.
Ibrahim al-Qudra told Ma'an that Israel must allow Gaza traders to export all goods rather than allow selective produce to leave the enclave based on the needs of the Israeli economy.
Israel must lift the blockade rather than opening crossings based on its own benefits, he said.
"When the crossings are officially opened, we will respond to Israel, but we refuse the control of crossings based on Israel’s personal benefits," he added.
The deputy minister also said that Gaza had exported hundreds of thousands of tons of tomatoes to Israel prior to the blockade, but said Israel closed the crossing to cut off competition to its local produce.
In October 2011, Israeli officials temporarily lifted a ban on agricultural exports from the Gaza Strip to allow the entry of palm fronds used to mark a Jewish holiday following shortages in Israel, the Hebrew-language Israeli daily Maariv reported.
In 2005, Israel agreed to allow 400 truckloads of exports to leave Gaza every day. This April, Israel allowed a total of 20 truckloads to be exported from Gaza.
The reopening of Rafah crossing on Gaza's border with Egypt in May 2011 allowed some residents to leave the coastal strip for the first time in years.
However the terminal is not equipped for exports and so had little effect on the Gaza economy, which relied on exports prior to Israel's blockade.