Gaza official: no palm branches' export for Israel

09:07, October 02, 2009      

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A Palestinian official on Thursday denied any export of Gaza's palm fronds to Israel despite reports that Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak approved such imports from the blockaded Gaza Strip.

"The farmers and dealers have not received any direct or indirect official notification from the Israeli side regarding fronds' export from Gaza," an official at the ministry of agriculture told Xinhua.

On Sept. 29, Barak said that he allowed the importation of the palm leaves from Gaza following a request by Israel's religious affairs minister Yaacov Margi due to the lack of these fronds on the eve of Jewish holidays.

During the week-long Jewish holiday of "Succot" which starts Friday, palm branches (lulavim) are used in the rituals of the feast where many Jews erect booths using a special kind of palm branches.

Israel usually imports the fronds from Egypt and Jordan. This year, the Egyptian dealers tripled the prices, fueling Israeli rabbis' fears of shortage.

Israel does not allow any sort of export from the Gaza Strip for more than two years. Under the blockade, the Gazans could only import the basic food products and medicine.

The agriculture ministry in Gaza, controlled by Islamic Hamas movement, said the reports of allowing palm exports from Gaza "were aimed at throwing dust in the eyes of the world that the Gaza siege is being eased."

The official, who asked for anonymity, reminded that the Jewish holiday starts Friday and Israel "should have told the Palestinian side to prepare the fronds at least 10 days earlier, not on Sept. 29."

Source: Xinhua
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