Israel allowed export of three truckloads of tomatoes from Gaza to Saudi Arabia on Monday but banned the trucks from unloading in Israel and the West Bank, where their natural markets are. Despite the fact that on their way to Saudi Arabia, the trucks will pass through Israel and the West Bank, Israel continues to ban sale of goods from Gaza in these areas as part of its “Separation Policy”.
Do tomatoes pose a security threat to Israel? Unlikely. Still, Israel will not allow Gazan tomatoes to be unloaded in Israel or the West Bank. They can, however, pass through Israel and the occupied West Bank.
The policy has kept export from Gaza at minimal levels – one truckload per day on average last year – because of high shipping costs and low demand abroad. In the months prior to the June 2007 ban on selling goods to Israel and the West Bank, Gaza residents exported 90 truckloads per day on average.
As we wrote two weeks ago when a truckload of furniture was permitted to reach Jordan, Gisha welcomes the development of new markets for Gaza’s products. We remind, however, that Gaza’s products already have established markets and customers in Israel and the West Bank, where more than 85% of outgoing products from Gaza were sold prior to 2007. Economic recovery in Gaza depends on access to markets in Israel and the West Bank.