The effect of Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip is such that the agricultural sector in the territory loses out on $36 million worth of business. The figures were presented at an exhibition at the Islamic University of Gaza; on display were a wealth of Palestinian agricultural and industrial products. The university's Faculty of Commerce held the exhibition to celebrate the ability of Palestinians to continue production despite the difficulties they face.
The Minister of Agriculture was presented with detailed information and statistics on the blockade's effect on the agricultural sector, including the closures of essential commercial crossings around the Strip. The Gaza Strip exports several types of produce, including flowers, strawberries, tomatoes and sweet peppers; however, exports have been hindered severely by the blockade to the extent that the restrictions imposed by Israel lead to the Gaza agriculture sector losing out on $13 million in exports to Europe; $5 million in exports to Arab countries; $13 million in exports to Israel; $5 million in exports to the West Bank.
The opening ceremony was attended by the Minister of Agriculture, Mohammed al-Agha and the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Islamic University, Jamal al-Khudry. More than 60 different industrial enterprises and agricultural products were on display. The industrial sector produces several varieties of drinks, including fresh juices; it also manufactures furniture and glass, and its solar energy industries seem to be thriving in Gaza.
In a protest on Sunday 6 March, Palestinian truck drivers blocked the Karem Abu Salem Crossing because of the recent closure of the Karni crossing by Israel. The Karni crossing is seen as one of the most essential commercial crossings for Palestinian businesses and wholesalers in Gaza due to its accessibility to warehouses and factories, as well as for security and its infrastructure which makes its cheaper for businesses and industries. In recent weeks, Israel has closed down key crossings, including Nahel Ouz crossing which caters for fuel and Shufa crossing through which construction material would normally enter Gaza. These closures are seen as yet another way to tighten the siege on the beleaguered territory.
MEMO Photographer: Mohammed Asad