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Diplomacy & Politics
TOVAH LAZAROFF \
Israel eases ban on export of goods from Gaza
Trucks at the Kerem Shalom Crossing in Gaza 390 (R).
(photo credit:Ibraheem Abu Mustafa / Reuters)
Israel this week eased its ban on Gaza goods to allow the United Nations World
Food Program (WFP) to truck to the West Bank 1.2 million energy date bars
produced in a Gaza factory.It is the second time this year it has
allowed Gaza date bars to be sent to the West Bank. The date bars will help feed
75,000 Palestinian school children spread across 300 West Bank
schools.WFP spokeswoman Anna Trolle-Lindgren said that many of the
children do not eat breakfast before coming to school. The bars are fortified
with iron and protein to combat anemia and to help them concentrate in class,
she said.In the past year the date bars were exported from Egypt or
Turkey. This year the WFP contracted a local Gaza factory to produce the
bars.The WFP purchase makes up 50 percent of the factory’s
production.Until Hamas’ violent coup of the Gaza Strip in June 2007, 85%
of the territory’s outgoing goods went to Israel and the West Bank, according to
Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement.While thousands of
truckloads of goods and gas enter Gaza from Israel, very few trucks exit the
strip with goods for sale, Gisha executive director Sari Bashi
said.Since 2007, fewer than 30 truckloads of Gaza goods have been sent
to the West Bank, she said.All the goods were part of projects sponsored
by governments or international organizations, and did not represent private
business initiatives, she said.Most of the Gaza exports, 34 truckloads a
month, are sent to Europe, she said.These are largely agriculture goods
such as strawberries or cherry tomatoes, Bashi said.A few truckloads
were exported from Gaza to Saudi Arabia, she added. One truckload of furniture
was sent to Jordan for an exhibition, Bashi said.She called on Israel to
remove its ban on sending Gaza goods to Israel and the West Bank, so that the
private sector could flourish and the economy can recover.Recent reports
on the Palestinian economy have all spoken of the need to revive private sector
business, Bashi said.The Gaza economy can only be revived through the
private sector, she said. The West Bank and Israel are natural markets for Gaza
products, she added.The office of the Coordinator for Government
Activities in the Territories could not be reached for comment.
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