A week after allowing watermelon imports from Israel for the first time in eight years, Gaza’s Hamas rulers have decided: No more.
Gaza’s Ministry of Agriculture announced on Monday that the imports of watermelons from Israel would stop after local farmers agreed to lower their prices by the end of the week, according to the Ma’an news agency.
Tahsin al-Saqa, director of the ministry’s marketing department, said in a statement quoted by Ma’an that the consumer price of watermelon would be reduced from 10 shekels (approximately $2.50) per five kilograms to 10 shekels per eight kilograms.
Last week, the ministry started to allow watermelon imports from Israel in an attempt to exert pressure on local farmers to lower their prices. Al-Saqa said in his statement that 600 tons of watermelon had been imported from Israel in the last three days.
Prior to the embargo that the Gaza government placed on Israel’s watermelon imports, between 20,000 and 30,000 tons of watermelon were imported every year, according to Ma’an. Local production subsequently improved to the extent that it was able to completely cover market demand.
However, the land cultivated for watermelon production fell from 4,500 dunams (1,112 acres) last year to 3,500 dunams (865 acres) this year.
Gaza’s Hamas rulers have in the past decided to “punish” Israel by stopping the imports of Israeli fruit to Gaza in protest of Israel preventing vegetables from Gaza from entering Judea and Samaria at the Kerem Shalom crossing.
Israel continues to regularly allow humanitarian aid and construction materials into Gaza, even though its terrorist rulers continue to attack southern Israel with rockets and threaten to destroy the Jewish state.
Last year, Israeli authorities opened the Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza and allowed 700 truckloads of goods to enter the region, even as the UN’s envoy to the Middle East, Nickolay Mladenov, blamed Israel’s “blockade” of Gaza for the slow pace of the region’s reconstruction following Operation Protective Edge in 2014.