Israel continues to "inexplicably" impose a ban on the exit of processed foods from the occupied Gaza Strip to markets in the West Bank and Israel, reports Israeli human rights NGO Gisha, "thwarting economic activity and growth in one of Gaza's most promising sectors".
Processed food, defined as "any kind of food that has undergone an adaptation and manufacturing process, including things like date paste, cookies, and potato chips", had been a significant part of the Gaza economy prior to the blockade.
Now, however, "Israel's policy regarding movement of goods out of Gaza reveals that dates can go to the West Bank but not date paste, and tomatoes can be shipped to Israel but not tomato paste," Gisha described.
Gisha noted how "Israel's comprehensive ban on the sale of goods in Israel and the West Bank was enforced until late 2014 and was one of the major causes of Gaza's economic stagnation." Yet while some of these restrictions have eased, the ban on "the marketing of processed foods" remains.
Before the blockade was tightened in June 2007, a monthly average of 1,064 trucks carrying goods exited Gaza for the West Bank, Israel and abroad. In 2008, a total of only 33 truckloads of goods left Gaza all year.
According to Gisha, "Israel has provided no official reason or explanation for limiting the sale of processed food products from Gaza to the West Bank and Israel."
"While many in Israel talk about the importance of enabling economic development Gaza, including for Israel's own security interests, in practice, Israel imposes arbitrary and sweeping restrictions on movement that thwart economic growth in the Strip without any clear reason," the NGO concluded.
Read: Israel's failure in Gaza