Farmers in the Gaza Strip this week commenced exports to Europe of hundreds of tons of produce, according to Israeli news site Ynetnews, after Israel temporarily opened up its border with the besieged city for Palestinian goods.
Exports reportedly included a truckload of the first strawberries of the season, which is due to run until May.
Yousef Shaath of Gaza’s Agricultural Development Association reported that 250 farmers hoped to export some 600 tons of strawberries, 350 tons of peppers, 160 tons of cherry tomatoes and 17m carnations, for an estimated turnover of US$25m.
This represents a potentially massive increase from last year's 300 tons of berries, six tons of peppers, six and a half tons of tomatoes and 10m carnations, Ynetnews revealed.
Nevertheless, exports out of Gaza remain heavily restricted. According to Israeli human rights group Gisha, the current exception to the export ban will benefit select growers, but "fails to address the manufacturing shutdown and massive unemployment caused by the export ban".
Gisha estimates that around 83 per cent of Gaza's factories are either idle or operating at or below 50 per cent capacity, while employment officially stands at 28 per cent.