Israel allows transit of Gaza produce to West Bank

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 06, 2014 10:00 AM

GAZA (Reuters) - Israel on Thursday allowed Palestinian farmers to ship produce from the blockaded Gaza Strip to the occupied West Bank, via Israeli territory, for the first time since 2007.

Israeli authorities said such shipments, which they halted after Hamas Islamists seized the Gaza Strip seven years ago, were aimed at spurring economic recovery in the impoverished enclave, after a seven-week war last summer.

A Palestinian official said a truckload of cucumbers destined for the West Bank was moved through Israel's Kerem Shalom crossing point with the Gaza Strip.

COGAT, an Israeli military authority coordinating the shipments, said in a statement that 10 tonnes of cucumbers were dispatched to the Hebron area in the West Bank, with a tonne of fresh fish from the Gaza Strip expected to follow on Sunday.

No additional shipments were announced and the Palestinian official said it was unclear whether any would be made in the coming week.

Citing security concerns, Israel largely restricts the movement of people and goods through its border with Gaza. It has allowed the export of Gaza-grown strawberries, flowers, mint and basil to Europe in limited quantities.

Since the Gaza conflict, which caused heavy damage to infrastructure and dwellings in the territory, international calls have mounted for Israel and Egypt to lift their border blockades and facilitate reconstruction.

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in the conflict, the Palestinian Health Ministry said. Israel put its death toll at 67 soldiers and six civilians.

(Reporting by Nidal Almughrabi; Editing by Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Crispian Balmer)