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Israel to allow coffee, tea into Gaza

Oct. 21, 2009 10:01 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 23, 2009 9:31 P.M.)
Gaza – Ma’an – Israel has decided to allow coffee and tea into the besieged Gaza Strip starting on Thursday, a Palestinian official said.

Nasser As-Sarraj, undersecretary of the Ministry of National Economy said that Palestinian authorities received word from Israel of the change in policy, which apparently removes coffee and tea from a list of banned items.

Israel bans imports of hundreds of specific items into Gaza as a part of its blockade of the territory which began in June 2007. The government says the materials are banned for security reasons.

The list includes such apparently harmless items as notebooks, pens and pencils, and concrete for construction. Smugglers profit from importing banned goods through underground tunnels from Egypt.

Coffee is one of the items smuggled from Egypt. The price of a one-kilogram bag of coffee was nearly 10 US dollars before the reported change this week.

In a related development, Israel decided to open its three shipping terminals with Gaza for limited deliveries of supplies, said Palestinian border crossing official Raed Fattouh.

Fattouh said 99-109 truckloads of humanitarian aid will be permitted through the Kerem Shalom crossing. Quantities of cooking gas and EU-supplied industrial diesel needed to run Gaza’s only power plant will be allowed through the Nahal Oz terminal, the official added.

The Karni crossing will also be open to allow 70 truckloads of wheat and animal feed into Gaza, Fattouh said.

As usual, no exports will be allowed out of the Gaza Strip on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Israel partially opened only the Kerem Shalom crossing while both Nahal Oz and Karni remained closed.
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