Flowers sent to Europe first export from Gaza in a year, UN says

12 February 2009

A truckload of cut flowers made it out of Gaza today and into Israel en route to Europe for sale, the first exports from the violence-wracked territory in over a year, the United Nations said today.

According to the office of the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory, it is not yet clear whether any further exports will be allowed in the coming days.

Some three weeks ago the Israeli military ended its devastating offensive against Hamas, which had the stated aim of stopping rocket attacks that emanated from the Gaza Strip.

Israel has closed or restricted the handful of border crossings with Gaza since the militant group forcibly ousted the Palestinian Authority from the area in June 2007.

Since that time, UN officials and others have called for the lifting of such restrictions, saying that they made the Gaza Strip economically unsustainable and caused severed humanitarian hardships.

Today, however, the Humanitarian Coordinator’s office reports that a number of crossings between Israel and the territory were open.

At the Karni crossing, 34 trucks, including 23 carrying wheat flour, made it into the territory, and 440,000 litres of industrial fuel for Gaza’s power plant went through the Nahal Oz pipeline.

In a related development, the UN Board of Inquiry into incidents involving death and damage at UN premises in Gaza during Israel’s offensive began its work today. Led by Ian Martin of the United Kingdom, the four-member body, which includes legal advisers and a military expert, will visit the region and report on its findings to the Secretary-General.

 

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