By Nour Abu Aisha
GAZA CITY, Palestine
Gaza’s Agriculture Ministry on Wednesday banned the import of Israeli fruit in retaliation against an Israeli ban on the import of fruit from Gaza.
“In response to Israel’s ban on importing our fruit, we will ban fruits imported from Israel,” ministry official Tahseen al-Sakka told Anadolu Agency.
Before the tit-for-tat bans, the Gaza Strip had imported roughly 20 tons of Israeli fruit per day through Israel’s Kerem Shalom border crossing while exporting some 20 tons of vegetables to Israel, according to al-Sakka.
The decision to ban Israeli fruit imports, the official added, “will not affect local prices for fruit, which we can produce in Gaza”.
However, he said, Israel’s ban on fruit from Gaza will hurt Gaza’s agricultural sector by creating a surplus in the coastal enclave, which would likely result in “considerable losses” for Gaza’s farmers.
On Monday, Israel imposed fresh restrictions on the blockaded Gaza Strip, including further restrictions on the movement of goods and a reduction of the area off Gaza’s coast in which Palestinian fishermen are allowed to ply their trade.
According to an Israeli army statement, the move was taken in response to recent “incendiary kite attacks” near the Gaza-Israel security fence by Palestinian activists.
In recent weeks, Palestinian activists have been flying flaming kites and balloons over Israeli territory as part of ongoing rallies along the security fence.
Since the rallies began on Mar. 30, at least 137 Palestinian protesters have been martyred -- and thousands more injured -- by Israeli army gunfire.
Protesters demand the “right of return” to their homes and villages in historical Palestine from which they were driven in 1948 to make way for the new state of Israel.
They also demand an end to Israel’s 11-year blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has gutted the coastal territory’s economy and deprived its roughly two million inhabitants of basic commodities.