In about-face, Gaza shuts tap on Israeli watermelons
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In about-face, Gaza shuts tap on Israeli watermelons

After 3 days of importing the fruit, deal ends as Gaza farmers agree to sell local produce more cheaply

Dov Lieber is The Times of Israel's Arab affairs correspondent.

A Palestinian farmer collecting watermelons in the southern Gaza Strip on May 9, 2015. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
A Palestinian farmer collecting watermelons in the southern Gaza Strip on May 9, 2015. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

The Gazan agricultural ministry put an end to a short-lived and surprising deal with Israel to import watermelons into the Palestinian enclave Sunday.

The Hamas-run ministry declared on its Facebook page that the deal with Israel had been canceled following an agreement by Gazan farmers to sell their watermelons for cheaper.

On Wednesday, the agriculture ministry in the Gaza Strip said it was allowing watermelon imports from Israel into the besieged enclave following an eight-year Palestinian-imposed ban.

A shortage of areas cultivated for watermelons in Gaza this year led to reduced crops pushing up prices in the local market.

In 2015, a total of 4,500 dunams (1,112 acres) was farmed for watermelons, but in 2016 that number dropped to just 3,500 dunams (865 acres), according to the Palestinian Ma’an news agency.

The ministry said it approved watermelon imports from Israel for a period of three days, during which some 600 tons passed into the Palestinian enclave via the Kerem Shalom Crossing.

Although Israel maintains a blockade on Gaza to prevent materials that could be used to build the military infrastructure in the Hamas-controlled area, hundreds of trucks bring in supplies through the border crossings per day.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report

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