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Official: 6 fruit, vegetable trucks leave Gaza for export

Dec. 15, 2011 5:17 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 16, 2011 10:27 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- One truckload of tomatoes and bell peppers, and five trucks carrying strawberries, crossed out of the Gaza Strip for export abroad on Thursday, crossings officials said.

Palestinian liaison official Raed Fattouh said that Israel opened the sole functioning Kerem Shalom crossing in southern Gaza to allow the small convoy through, as part of an agreement to with the Dutch government to permit limited exports from the blockaded strip.

The Israeli legal rights organization Gisha says the winter export deal allows just 1 percent of the 400 export trucks a day Israel agreed to permit under a 2005 deal with the Palestinian Authority.

Israel tightened a land and sea blockade on Gaza in 2007 after Hamas took control of the coastal strip, restricting the movement of goods and the 1.7 million residents out of the 360 square kilometer territory.

Limited imports into Gaza were straitjacketed by the closure of three terminals equipped for fuel and goods transfers since 2008, and a ban on local construction materials.

Exports from Gaza producers are blocked by Israeli authorities, bar the irregular Dutch-sponsored vegetable and fruit convoys.

"Since all exports from Gaza to Europe via Israel undergo comprehensive security checks and meet all required standards, it is hard to imagine any security rationale behind the ban," Gisha says.
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