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Palestinian farmers in Gaza burn tons of their own produce

By Mason White 12:21 PM April 15, 2013
Palestinian farmer burning their own produce 

By: David Ross
Palestinians in the Gaza Strip began burning their own produce after they said that they have no way to export the produce to the European market, according to press reports in Israel.

Palestinian farmers in Gaza began destroying 3 tons of herbs on Saturday, saying a prolonged shutdown of the Kerem Shalom border crossing to Israel meant that plants were no longer suitable for export.

Late last year, Israel lifted a five-year blockade on the export of herbs and spices from the Gaza Strip, that was imposed after the Islamist group Hamas took control of the territory, and farmers had hoped to take advantage of the open border to sell high priced mint and basil.

However, Israel closed the only commercial crossing in response to a barrage of rockets fired from Gaza. The border is only open to allow emergency goods into Gaza.

Farmers said the closure came just as they were about to export 2 tons of mint and 1 ton of basil. The herbs were already past their prime for the European market.

“It is too late and we regret that we had to destroy the farmers’ harvest,” Jamal Abu Naja, the director of the association of communal agriculture of Gaza, said. “The closures are threatening farming projects,” he added.

“The local farmers should pressure Hamas to stop the rocket fire into Israel in order to ensure an orderly and stable border. If no rockets are fired, then the border could remain open for business year round, which will result in an improved economy in the Gaza Strip,” Gary Trent, 66, a Middle East observer in Ames, Iowa told YourJewishNews.com.

Importers in Europe paid $26 per kilo mint compared to a local market price of just 27 cents.