Hamas blocks Israeli imports to Gaza

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Tom Joyce

BY TOM JOYCE

@tomfruitnet

Hamas blocks Israeli imports to Gaza

Hamas's move to ban some imports of Israeli fruit has had a mixed reception among Gazan growers and importers

Hamas blocks Israeli imports to Gaza

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The Hamas government has banned most fruit imports from Israel to Gaza, according to Haaretz.com, in order to boost the local Palestinian agricultural sector and to demonstrate resistance to the Israeli blockade.

The ban was announced this week by Gaza's agriculture ministry and reportedly includes all fruit except bananas and apples.

It is expected to result in a 50 per cent cut in imports, valued in 2011 at around US$26m, according to the ministry's estimates.

The ministry's director of marketing, Tahseen al-Saqqa, explained the action as a response to Israel's refusal to allow exports of Palestinian fruit such as grapes and guavas through its border with Gaza.

While the move has been welcomed by local growers, some traders fear the ban will limit volumes and lead to price hikes.

Gazan fruit importer Jaber al-Shanty described the ban as "irresponsible and unrealistic". "The local product is not nearly enough," he said. "What do we have in large quantities, other than guava?"

He added that advance payments made to Israeli suppliers would now be difficult to claim back.

One Gaza-based grower of dates and guava, Ibrahim al-Shaer, said the move would help farmers by raising prices, but suggested that the government allow a reasonable level of imports from Israel to prevent prices rising too steeply.

However, the ministry's Saqqa urged Gazans to see the bigger picture. "We are people under blockade and we should have the culture of resistance," he said. "Why should someone have all kinds of fruits on his table?"

Hamas has urged Egypt to relax controls on its border with Gaza since the change in government there this year, but the request has not yet been granted.

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