Trucks carrying apples produced by Arab farmers in the Golan Heights began arriving in Syria on Tuesday in an effort to help the farmers market their main crop.
The trucks with Swiss license plates affiliated with the International Committee for the Red Cross in Syria brought the apples across the border to the Syrian checkpoint at the disengagement line in Quneitra, about 65 kilometers south of the capital, Damascus.
The Red Cross said in a statement that the transfer of some 11,023 tons of apples will take up to 10 weeks.
The Syrian government first decided in 2005 to buy large quantities of apples from the Golan Heights in a move aimed at helping Arab farmers market the crop and encourage them to continue farming in the region. The decision came after the farmers appealed to Syria through the Red Cross to buy their apples, which they find difficult to sell in Israel.
Medhat Saleh, head of the Golan Affairs office of the Syrian government, has accused Israel of offering to buy the apples "at very low prices."
When Syria began importing the apples from Golan farmers in 2005 - the first kind of trade ever made with the Israeli-occupied territory - it said the move had no political purpose and was aimed only at helping the Arab farmers.