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Gaza threatens to halt Israeli fruit imports

By AFP - Nov 24,2014 - Last updated at Nov 24,2014

GAZA CITY — Gaza's Hamas-run agriculture ministry threatened on Monday to stop importing Israeli fruit to the Palestinian territory in response to what it said was vegetable exports being blocked.

The warning came months after a 50-day bloody conflict between Israel and militants in the Gaza Strip, leaving the enclave in humanitarian and economic crisis.

"If Israel doesn't reverse its decision to halt the export of Palestinian agricultural produce... we will ban the entry of fruit" from Israel, a ministry statement said.

It said Israel on Sunday refused to let through the Kerem Shalom goods crossing some 12 trucks destined for the West Bank and Jordan and carrying 135 tonnes of vegetables worth $149,000 (120,000 euros).

Gaza has been choked by an eight-year blockade which Israel imposed after Hamas kidnapped one of its soldiers in a cross-border raid.

Israel controls two of the tiny coastal territory's three crossings — Kerem Shalom in the south and the Erez personnel crossing in the north. Egypt controls the third crossing at Rafah in the south.

After the Gaza war ended on August 26, the international community, including the International Monetary Fund, urged Israel to loosen the blockade to allow in crucial humanitarian aid and to revive the ailing economy.

Israel has allowed a small amount of construction material into Gaza to help rebuild some of the tens of thousands of homes destroyed by air strikes and artillery, but has not palpably eased the blockade.

The export of farm produce is a key source of income for Gaza, home to 1.8 million Palestinians.

Exports from Gaza currently stand at around 2 per cent of what they were before the blockade.

For the first time since 2006, Israel recently allowed a tonne of fish and crabs and 10 tonnes of cucumbers to be sent to the West Bank.

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