Middle East Monitor / October 31, 2019
Israeli authorities are still preventing the exit of processed foods for sale outside of the occupied Gaza Strip, reported freedom of movement NGO Gisha yesterday.
In a press release, Gisha announced that it had written a letter this week demanding that Israel’s Health Ministry “take immediate action to institute clear procedures and guidelines for coordinating the transfer of processed foods from Gaza for sale in the West Bank”.
Gisha has also demanded that the State Attorney’s Office “examine why in the past six months the Health Ministry has failed to respond to multiple inquiries by Gisha on behalf of Gaza manufacturers attempting to market their products in the West Bank.”
Since June 2007, in the context of an ongoing, crippling blockade, Israel has effectively banned the exit of processed foods from the Gaza Strip for sale in the occupied West Bank, Israel and abroad.
In late 2018, the Israeli government responded to a Gisha-filed petition by arguing that no prohibition exists – but “also admitted to not having established a mechanism to allow for coordination of this process in compliance with Ministry of Health requirements”.
Gisha has now contacted the Health Ministry six times over the past six months on behalf of two companies, “in an effort to discover what tests and permits are required to coordinate the exit of their products to be marketed in the West Bank”. The minister has “offered no response” so far.
In the letter to the State’s Attorney Office, Gisha lawyer Muna Haddad cautioned that “the unreasonable delay by the Health Ministry in handling the matter effectively precludes any possibility of shipping processed foods from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank and Israel.”
This directly contradicts “assurances by the State before the High Court, as well as statements made by your clients whereby they are taking steps to promote development of the local economy in Gaza and to expand opportunities for the sale of locally made products in markets outside the Strip.”