Ma’an News Agency | – –
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Israeli troops used tear gas to suppress a march held by five Palestinian food production companies on Sunday near the Israeli Ofer prison in the occupied West Bank.
The companies protested by parking their trucks near the prison, after Israeli authorities banned their products from entering Jerusalem and Israel.
h/t Ma’an Images
An Israeli army spokesman did not immediately respond for request for information about the protest.
Israel informed the companies on Wednesday that their products were banned from entering Jerusalem through the Beitunia commercial crossing.
The director of marketing for the Hamoda company, Fadi Abu Hilweh, told Ma’an on Saturday evening that Israeli troops at the crossing have been turning back trucks of the five companies since Wednesday.
Hamoda head Ameer Haddad told Ma’an that Hamoda — along with the companies al-Juneidi Dairy and Food products, al-Rayyan Dairies, Salwa Foods, and Siniora Food Industries — all parked their trucks near the prison to protest the ban and “the horrible consequences of this decision.”
Haddad added that the companies export their products to Jerusalem under agreements with Israel and that there was no grounds for the ban.
He said the companies would continue protesting until Israeli authorities canceled the decision.
Abu Hilweh said the companies were not officially notified of any decisions to ban their products in Israel and were “surprised” when Israeli soldiers at Beitunia commercial crossing denied their products entry to Israel on Wednesday.
He added that about 50 percent of the five companies’ production goes to Palestinian consumers in occupied East Jerusalem and Palestinian communities in Israel.
If this ban continues, he said, the companies could lose some 1.2 billion shekels ($309.5 million) a year.
Hamoda has already notified its milk providers to halt supplies until the ban is resolved. Abu Hilweh said the five companies would have to discharge large numbers of workers if the ban continued.
He added that he was surprised when Israeli authorities informed the companies that the decision to ban products was a “political” decision and “the Palestinian Authority was notified of the decision six months ago.”
An official in the Palestinian Ministry of Economy, who requested anonymity, told Ma’an that the ministry was not notified of any such decision.
“The ministry is looking into the case, which is a flagrant breach of Paris Protocols,” the official said, referring to an agreement signed in 1995 between the PLO and Israel, that set procedures and regulations governing economic relations between the occupied West Bank and Israel.
Palestinian lawmaker and Secretary-General of the Palestinian National Initiative Mustafa Barghouthi said the Palestinian Authority should respond to the Israeli decision by banning Israeli products from entering the Palestinian market.
According to the protocols, bilateral trade agreements between Israel and other parties are considered valid in the occupied West Bank, however Israel prevents the import of many Palestinian products to the Israeli market.
A poll by the the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research conducted in June 2015 reported that the overwhelming majority of those interviewed in the West Bank and Gaza Strip — 86 percent — said they supported the campaign to boycott Israeli products.