World Bulletin/News Desk
For the first time since Israel imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip in 2007, small amounts of fish and vegetables are making their way across the Gaza border and into West Bank markets.
Although quantities in this regard are still small, they have revived Palestinian hopes for an economic unity that can make for some of the damage caused by the latest Israeli war on the Gaza Strip, a war that had destroyed the livelihoods of a large number of Gaza's farmers.
"The agricultural sector has incurred massive losses during the latest Israeli onslaught," Tahseen al-Saqqa, the director of crossings at the Palestinian Agriculture Ministry, told Anadolu Agency.
"Exporting [Gaza's products] to the West Bank is enough to breathe new life into Gaza's embattled economy and rescue thousands of families, which rely on farming as their sole source of livelihood," al-Saqqa added.
Some 44,000 workers - almost 11 percent of Gaza's labor force – earn a living by working in agriculture-related jobs, according to al-Saqqa.
He expressed hopes that the export of small amounts of fish and agricultural products would lead to a comprehensive economic unity between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, unity that could save the economy of the embattled strip.
Israel had recently allowed Gaza to export five types vegetables, namely tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants, sweet pepper and zucchini, as well as strawberries and fish, to the West Bank.
Before Israel imposed its all-out blockade on the Gaza Strip in 2007, the coastal territory used to export 10,000 tons of crops to the West Bank every year. This had dropped to nothing after imposing the blockade, except for small amounts of agricultural products that were exported to European markets, al-Saqqa said.
On Monday and for the first time since 2007, Israeli authorities allowed the export of 600kg of fish from Gaza to West Bank markets.
"Steady quantities of agricultural and livestock exports will be agreed on between the Palestinian side and Israel during the coming period," Nazmi Mehanna, the director-general of the Palestinian border crossings authority, told AA.
The latest Israeli onslaught on Gaza, which lasted for 51 days, resulted in losses, amounting to $550 million, for Gaza's agricultural sector, according to the Palestinian Agriculture Ministry.
More than 80 percent of Gaza's workers earn a living by working in agriculture. Around 40 percent of these people work in the fishing industry. A large number of these agricultural workers have lost their sole source of income due to the shelling of farms and the leveling of agricultural lands during the latest Israeli offensive.
"Dealing with Gaza and the West Bank as one economic entity can contribute a lot to relieving some of the Strip's suffering, which gets worse day after day," Samir Abu Mudalala, an economics professor at Al-Azhar University in Gaza, said.
"The blockade, along with the latest Israeli aggression, have ushered in a catastrophic situation in Gaza, leaving 90 percent of the population below the poverty line of $1 per person a day," Palestinian NGO the People's Committee for Lifting the Siege on the Gaza Strip said in a statement.
The latest Israeli war has raised the number of jobless people in Gaza to about 200,000, Gaza's Labor Union said earlier. It said these 200,000 workers had up to 900,000 dependent family members.
Last Mod: 16 Kasım 2014, 10:52