Tuesday, February 04, 2014

AP badly misrepresents Israel's role in Gaza exports

From AP:
Gaza farmers have begun growing mint, basil and coriander, saying such herbs can serve as a remedy for some of the blockaded Palestinian territory's economic woes.

Looking for blockade loopholes, five Gaza farmers began growing herbs a year ago, most in greenhouses on land where Jewish settlers used to raise the same crops until Israel's withdrawal from Gaza in 2005. "The motive ... was to find new products that we can grow here in Gaza and that return a good income and can employ more people," said farmer Jamal Abu Naja, 47.

...Some argue that cultivating fresh herbs makes more sense economically because they require less water, grow more quickly, cost less to ship and are always in high demand.

"This can elevate the Gaza economy," said Mohammed Abu Ouda, an expert in agricultural development.

Even if herbs offer a new opportunity, Israel's export policies make it harder for Gaza farmers to make a profit.
AP makes it sound like enterprising Gaza farmers, within the past year, have found a way to get around those evil Israeli restrictions on exports, and their success is in spite of Israel's desires to keep them poor and destitute.

Let's see what the IDF's COGAT unit had to say about the first spice export in 2012:
In addition to the usual exported agricultural goods- peppers, a variety of tomatoes, strawberries and flowers, for the very first time, Gaza farmers are exporting spices.

This represents a significant accomplishment for Gaza farmers and merchants, as the average revenue per spice truck is roughly 40,000 NIS, compared with approximately 25,000 NIS per truck with other produce.

The entire project was initiated by the ICLA Gaza [Israeli Coordination & Liaison Administration] and coordinated with the Khan Younis Association and the Arava Export Growers as part of the continuous support for agricultural development in the Gaza Strip.

Farmers in Gaza were given tutorials on how to grow spices and they were then provided the seedlings from Israel. This morning, Sunday, 21 October 2012, the inaugural export through Kerem Shalom proved a success. Special arrangements at the crossing were made to accommodate the needs of the exported spices, including capabilities to perform refrigerated quality and security inspections.
Spice exports from Gaza was Israel's idea! From conception through training through giving the seeds and working with the Gaza farmers on export requirements, everything was initiated by Israel!

AP's misinformation don't end there:
Israel only permits the farmers to export abroad, but not to Israel and the West Bank, traditionally Gaza's main markets. Gaza's agricultural exports are trucked through Israel to Jordan and from there flown to far-flung destinations, including Europe, the United States and Russia.
No. Most of the exports go through Israel's port in Ashdod, sometimes they are flown out of Ben Gurion airport, and sometimes they go through Jordan - whichever makes economic sense.  So exports of produce to Saudi Arabia probably go through Jordan, but most of the exports to Europe and the US go through Ashdod.

It is also interesting that in an article about how supposedly difficult it is to export through Israel, for some reason, no one seems to ask about why Gazans can't export goods to or via Egypt.

Do you think that AP's Ibrahim Barzak has a bias?

(Information verified with COGAT)