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      Israel Helps Gaza Export Cherry Tomatoes

      Israel will assist the Gaza Strip export cherry tomatoes to Europe, while Gilad Shalit is captive and rockets are still being fired into Israel.
      By Elad Benari
      First Publish: 2/28/2011, 3:18 AM / Last Update: 2/28/2011, 3:12 AM

      Israel News photo: Flash 90

      It’s business as usual for the Israeli government, and this includes the continued economic aid to the Gaza Strip.

      The Coordinator of Government Activities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza announced on Sunday that Israel will be expanding its agricultural assistance to farmers in the Strip by giving approval for an additional phase in an export project headed by the Dutch government.

      A spokesperson for the unit reported that based on a decision by the Ministerial Committee on Security to expand economic activity in Gaza and to expand exports from the Gaza Strip, an export of cherry tomatoes will begin this week from the Gaza Strip. The tomatoes will be taken through the Kerem Shalom crossing to markets in Europe.

      It was also reported that the beginning of the export of cherry tomatoes from the Strip was made possible after much work by the Coordinator of Government Activities, General Eitan Dangot, who worked with the director of security in the border crossings as well as representatives of the Dutch government and the Palestinian Authority.

      The spokesman stressed that Israel attaches great importance to the international community's involvement in implementing policies towards the members of the civilian population in Gaza who are not involved terrorism against Israel, and noted that Israel will continue to implement economic projects in the Gaza Strip

      The project known as the Dutch Government Project also includes exports of 367 tons of strawberries from the Gaza Strip, about 5.3 million carnations, and 6 tons of peppers.

      The announcement on the expansion of exports from Gaza comes despite the recent escalation in rocket attacks by terrorists from the Strip. Just last Wednesday, Gaza terrorists fired two Grad rockets at Be'er Sheva. One rocket exploded in a building and caused heavy damage to the place. Six adults and four children were taken to Soroka Hospital in Be'er Sheva after suffering from trauma following the explosion.

      Meanwhile, kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit continues to be held captive and incommunicado by Hamas terrorists in Gaza. Just over a week ago, a protest was held in Jerusalem near the official residence of the Prime Minister marking 1,700 days since Shalit’s kidnapping. The demonstration was attended by Shalit's parents and other family members. People held homemade signs reading “Gilad is a son to all of us.” The Red Cross has never been allowed to visit him.

      Last week, Information Minister Yuli Edelstein addressed, during an interview with Arutz Sheva’s Hebrew website, the Israeli government policy towards the Gaza Strip in the wake of the continued terror attacks from Gaza and Shalit’s continued captivity. He described the situation as ‘absurd’ and said that it is a result of the 2005 "Disengagement" from the Gaza Strip which left Israel, in the eyes of the world,  still responsible for the Gaza Strip despite its total withdrawal from the area and the terrible personal price its Israeli residents paid for that expulsion.