Exports from the Gaza Strip have resumed this week for the first time since the beginning of the 51-day Israeli offensive on the enclave two months ago, a Palestinian official said Tuesday.
At least 30 tons of sweet potatoes were exported to Europe on Monday, the first export shipment to be coming out of the blockaded enclave since July 8, Tahseen al-Saqa, head of the Palestinian Agriculture Ministry's Crossings Determent, told Anadolu Agency.
More agricultural exports, including flowers and spices, would follow within days, the official said.
Before the Israeli onslaught, the Gaza Strip used to export strawberry, flowers, tomato, sweet potato and spices through its only functioning commercial crossing – the Kerem Shalom border terminal – with Israel.
A cease-fire deal, signed by Palestinian and Israeli negotiators in Cairo on August 26, called for Israel to reopen its crossings with Gaza to commercial traffic.
The cease-fire ended Israel's 51-day onslaught on the densely-populated Gaza Strip, which left over 2,150 Palestinians dead – the vast majority of them civilians – and more than 11,000 injured.
Blockaded by Israel – by air, land and sea – since 2007, the Gaza Strip has seven border crossings linking it to the outside world. Six of these are controlled by Israel, while the seventh – the Rafah crossing – is controlled by Egypt, which keeps it tightly sealed for the most part.
Israel sealed four of its commercial crossings with Gaza in June 2007 after Palestinian resistance movement Hamas wrested control of the strip from the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority.
As it currently stands, Israeli authorities allow the Kerem Shalom crossing – which links Gaza to both Israel and Egypt – to operate for commercial purposes.
The Gaza-Israel Erez crossing, meanwhile, is generally devoted to the movement of individuals between Gaza and the occupied West Bank.
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