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Gaza sweet potatoes exported to Europe for 1st time since siege

Sept. 29, 2014 6:24 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 1, 2014 12:20 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Thirty tons of sweet potatoes were exported from Gaza to Europe for the first time since Israel imposed a siege on the Strip, the Ministry of Agriculture said Monday.

Ministry official Tahsin al-Saqqa said "this small quantity" of potatoes were exported after it was permitted by Israeli authorities.

Al-Saqqa said he hoped the Israeli decision would be the beginning of a policy to allow continuous exports of farmers' goods from Gaza.

The Israeli siege has severely limited imports and exports as well as movement of people, crippling Gaza's economy.

According to the Israeli rights group Gisha, exports have been reduced to two percent of their previous levels, leading to widespread unemployment and poverty.

Ending the devastating siege was the primary demand of Gaza militant factions as they fought Israel in a 50-day war that left nearly 2,200 Palestinians dead, mostly civilians.

The blockade was imposed following the victory of Hamas in the 2006 Palestinian elections and the subsequent 2007 clashes between Fatah and Hamas, which left Hamas in control of the Strip and Fatah in control of parts of the occupied West Bank.
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