Israeli Occupation Oppress Palestinian Farmers and Produce Violating their Rights
Date: 27 June 2021
Time: 11:20 GMT
The Israeli occupation authorities continue to employ its collective punishment policy on the Gaza Strip population, including enhanced restrictions on the movement of imports and exports to and from Gaza, seriously infringing on civilians’ enjoyment of their economic and social rights. In the latest developments pertaining to collective punishment practices, the occupation authorities imposed impossible conditions on merchants and farmers from Gaza demanding they remove the green stem off tomatoes before export. This condition follows a ban on exports for over a month following the conclusion of the Israeli aggression on Gaza, costing farmers USD 16 million losses, on top of the losses incurred due to the Israeli airstrikes against lands and agricultural facilities.
The Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture stated on its website that the occupation authorities conditioned that the green stem on tomatoes be removed to allow their export, which affects the quality and lifespan of the fruit. This condition, which was met with wide frustration from farmers, amplifies their losses due to the closure of Karm Abu Salem and ban on export of agricultural goods from Gaza for over 45 days.
Since the occupation announced resumption of operations at Karm Abu Salem crossing, limited types of agricultural produce were allowed export (110 tons, including 30 tons of tomato), before the occupation shocked farmers with its impossible condition to remove the fruit’s stem, which was refused by farmers and led them to refuse to export their produce. Senior agricultural merchants believe that the Israeli occupation is combating their products with this condition, incurring additional expenses on farmers as tomatoes are spoiled much faster when the green stem is removed. On to of that, this condition is incompliant with the demands of external markets who request tomatoes to be in the shape of sprigs that show it is a fresh product.
The Israeli authorities continue to ban the export of Gaza products, except for limited items that are mostly exported into West Bank markets, a small percentage is sent to Israeli markets and others. After a suspension for over one month after the May 2021 IOF military aggression on Gaza, the occupation authorities allowed the export of produce and clothes in limited quantities, which led to a serious deterioration in the Gaza Strip’s economic situation, particularly for the agriculture sector who became unable to meet their families’ basic needs after their lands were shelled and destroyed in the aggression, and as they suffered due to consecutive economic crisis that took over the Gaza Strip as hundreds became unemployed.
On Thursday, 24 June 2021, IOF expanded the fishing area in the Gaza Sea to 9 nautical miles after it was limited to 6 (allowed fishing area was 15 nautical miles before the aggression) after the aggression. IOF also announced superficial facilitations on the restriction on the import of goods to Gaza, as some raw materials used exclusively for civilian objects were allowed entry. IOF continue to ban the import of the necessary fuel to operate Gaza’s sole power plant, increasing the financial burdens of commercial facilities that has led to their closure in many instances.
As such, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights calls for the international community and concerned bodies to intervene to stop the Israeli occupation from imposing new obstacles and restrictions on the movement of goods (export and import) via Karm Abu Salem, and to resolve its conditions that change produce marketing standards in a manner that negatively affects the quality of Palestinian products and decrease its marketing chances abroad, which consequently will aggravate Palestinians’’ economic hardship. PCHR also renews its call upon the international community and the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions, to force the Israeli authorities cease its collective punishment policies against Gaza’s civilian population, which include the tightened restrictions on border crossing threatening their food security and their economic and social rights.