image Photo: Flash90

COGAT: Gaza’s Red Gold Is Back

A first for this season, Israel’s Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) facilitated the export of fresh strawberries from the Gaza Strip to Judea and Samaria.

By Erin Viner

The Coordination and Liaison Administration (CLA) for Gaza, which is responsible for implementing the Israeli government’s civilian policy, facilitated the passage of 2 trucks transporting more than 7 tons of strawberries through the Kerem Shalom Crossing.

The development is part of COGAT’S wide-ranging efforts to strengthen the agricultural sector in the Palestinian enclave.

“Strawberry exports are a central element in Gaza’s agricultural sector,” CLA Head Colonel Moshe Tetro explained in a statement TV7 obtained from the COGAT Spokesperson’s Office, adding that his division “is advancing many measures for the further development of the agricultural sector – which financially supports tens of thousands of families throughout the Gaza Strip.”

“These measures are possible thanks to the preservation of stable security in the region,” underscored Col. Tetro.

Some 2,200 dunams (550 acres) in the northern Gaza Strip are used to grow the delicious fruit.

Last year, Israel’s help to facilitate export of the nearly 3,000-ton crop contributed tens of millions of shekels to economic improvement in Gaza, with delivery not only to Judea and Samaria (West Bank) but also abroad to foreign markets through the Allenby Bridge Crossing.

In related developments, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Major General Rassan Alian, held a series of meetings with top European envoys at the Kirya Military Base in Tel Aviv “to discuss the current reality in the Middle East, the efforts to promote civilian measures for the residents of the Gaza Strip, and the economic and civil cooperation with the Palestinian Authority (PA).

According to a separate statement from his office, Gen. Alain told ambassadors from Germany, Switzerland, Finland and other nations that Israel is “looking forward to maintaining and improving our economic cooperation” with the PA “for the benefit of all region’s residents.”

With regard to Gaza, Gen. Alain emphasized that while striving to advance civilian measures aimed at improving the well-being of residents in the Strip, COGAT “will continue to work to thwart the military intensification of the Hamas terrorist organization.”

His division is also continuing efforts to to secure the release of the bodies of 2 IDF soldiers and 2 citizens held captive in Gaza by its Hamas rulers, said Gen. Alain, in a mission he described as “a most important humanitarian and moral issue that must be resolved as fast as possible.”

Sergeant First Class Oron Shaul and  Second Lieutenant Hadar Goldin killed in action during the 2014 Operation Protective Edge conflict with Gaza. Their bodies were seized by Hamas for use as “bargaining chips” in any future prisoner swaps for the past 7 years. The Islamist terror group has also been holding captive Israeli civilians Avraham “Avera” Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, both of whom reportedly suffer mental impairment and crossed into the lawless Palestinian enclave at separate times on their own accord 2014-2015.