Daily Israel Report

Israel Begins 4th Annual Apple Exports to Syria

Sometimes business transcends politics; Golan Heights apple growers began exporting their produce to Syria on Tuesday for the fourth year in a row.
By Hana Levi Julian
First Publish: 2/17/2009, 11:40 AM

Israel News Photo: (courtesy of Wikipedia)

Israel and Syria have no diplomatic ties, but for apple growers in the Golan Heights, it's a mere technicality.

For the fourth year in a row, Israeli apple growers on Tuesday will begin exporting their fruit to Syria. The shipments will be delivered via the Kuneitra Crossing, usually reserved for passage of United Nations personnel and military forces between the two nations.

The transfer is being coordinated by representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on each side of the border, with the participation and observation of U.N. representatives and the IDF.

The IDF spokesman said Israeli military officials will accompany and secure the trucks' movement near the Syrian border. "The IDF hopes that the transfer will take place as quickly and efficiently as possible and has made preparations to ensure that this indeed occurs," he said in a statement released to the media.

Two Druze men from the Golan Heights were sentenced last December to prison terms after being convicted of spying for Damascus while overseeing the government-authorized export of apples from local Druze farmers to Syria.

More than 20 truckloads of the sweet produce are to be exported every day for the next several weeks, reaching a total export of approximately 8,000 tons of fruit.

Israeli exports of Golan Heights apples to Syria have been approved and carried out peacefully since 2005.