Gaza, 6 Dzulhijjah 1435/30 September 2014 (MINA) – Thirty tons of Gaza sweet potatoes were exported to Europe for the first time since Israel imposed a siege on the Strip, the Ministry of Agriculture said Monday . Ministry official Tahsin al-Saqqa said “this small quantity” of potatoes were exported after it was permitted by Israeli authorities.
Al-Saqqa said he hoped the Israeli decision would be the beginning of a policy to allow continuous exports of farmers’ goods from Gaza, Falastin News quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) as reporting.
The Israeli siege has severely limited imports and exports as well as movement of people, crippling Gaza’s economy.
According to the Israeli rights group Gisha, exports have been reduced to two percent of their previous levels, leading to widespread unemployment and poverty.
Ending the devastating siege was the primary demand of Gaza militant factions as they fought Israel in a 50-day war that left nearly 2,200 Palestinians dead, mostly civilians.
The blockade was imposed following the victory of Hamas in the 2006 Palestinian elections and the subsequent 2007 clashes between Fatah and Hamas, which left Hamas in control of the Strip and Fatah in control of parts of the occupied West Bank.
Egypt opened the Rafah crossing with the Gaza Strip on Monday for special cases, a Palestinian official said.
Mahir Abu Sabha, the director of Gaza border crossings, told Ma’an that the crossing would be open for humanitarian cases and Palestinians who work or study in other countries.
The Rafah crossing is the principal connection between Gaza’s 1.7 million people and the outside world, but Egypt largely keeps it shut as part of the jointly-enforced Israeli blockade. (T/P001/P3)
Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)