Export from Gaza, via Israel and the West Bank but not to them, is allowed once again: this time tomatoes to Saudi Arabia

Monday, February 6, 2012 – Israel allowed export of three truckloads of tomatoes from Gaza to Saudi Arabia today 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".

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.

The tomatoes belong to Abed Al Rauf Abu Safar, a resident of Gaza who owns the Abu Safar Company for export of fruits and vegetables. Before 2007, Abu Safar sold hundreds of truckloads of vegetables each year, mostly to Israel and the West Bank.  Because of the high costs of shipping to Saudi Arabia and long delays at the Kerem Shalom Crossing, Abu Safar says it is likely he will lose money on the venture, his first attempt since the 2007 ban.

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.

For current information about the civilian closure of Gaza, click here.

For graphs detailing export from Gaza click here.