Israel’s Supreme Court, sitting as the High Court of Justice, will today hear a petition to remove a ban on the export of processed foods from the occupied Gaza Strip.
The petition, brought by Israeli human rights group Gisha, challenges an effective ban since June 2007 on the exit of processed foods from Gaza for sale in the West Bank, Israel and abroad.
According to Gisha, “the petition demands that Israel enable the owners of the company Sarayo Al Wadia to market their products, which include potato chips, cookies and wafers, in the West Bank and abroad.”
Gisha is also demanding “that Israel enable Gaza manufacturers to sell and export non-agricultural goods, including all types of processed foods, from Gaza to markets outside the Strip.”
Before Israel tightened its blockade of the Gaza Strip in 2007, some 85 per cent of goods exiting Gaza were sold in the West Bank and Israel. Processed foods specifically accounted for 33 per cent of the goods marketed from Gaza in the West Bank.
“In its preliminary response to the petition, the state alleges that it never received the multiple applications made by the owners of Sarayo Al Wadia to coordinate exit of their products,” said Gisha, “contradicting an official letter it sent Gisha where it claims to be processing their request.”
“Israel continuously pays lip service to its recognition of the importance of economic development in the Strip, while impeding genuine, legitimate economic activity and stymieing the efforts made by entrepreneurs, manufacturers and businesspeople in Gaza to expand their businesses beyond the local market, where unemployment has reached over 50 percent,” Gisha stated.
“Gisha maintains that Israel must fulfil its obligations toward Gaza’s civilian population by refraining from blocking trade and finding practical ways to allow Gaza manufacturers to market their goods in the West Bank, Israel and abroad,” the statement concluded.