As it turned out, the sale of Lulavim from Gaza was cancelled by Hamas:
Israeli traders will buy between 70,000 and 100,000 lulavs – palm tree fronds that are one of the Four Species of Sukkot – from Jordan. Another initiative – to buy 50,000 lulavs from Gaza traders who smuggled them into Gaza from Sinai – was vetoed by the Hamas terror group that rules over Gaza.Apparently, Hamas cancelled the sale because of red palm beetles that ruined the crop.
Egypt recently decided not to allow the sale of lulavs grown in Sinai to Israeli traders this year. The decision reflects the hostile posture Egypt has been adopting toward Israel after the downfall of President Hosni Mubarak.
For many years, Israel has been importing about 700,000 lulavs from Sinai annually.
But of course, the story does not end there.
Some are claiming that Israel's willingness to import Lulavim from Gaza proves that the blockade is political and not an issue of security:
After Egypt Palm canceled the deal, Israel was quick to approve import Lulavim from Gaza. Activists opposed to the closure of the Gaza Strip said it was proof that there is no security justification for closure. In the end, because of harmful bugs attacking the palm trees in the Gaza Strip, the Lulavim will be coming from Jordan.UNRWA spokesman Chris Guness claimed that this proves the blockade has nothing to do with security.
Israel Matzav fisks Guness's fatuous claim:
First, there is a huge difference between how much Israel needs to be concerned with what goes into Gaza (i.e. weapons) as compared with how much it needs to be concerned with what comes out of Gaza. Second, Israel has allowed exports from Gaza several times since 2007. Third, if we have accepted the principal that the blockade is intended only to keep weapons out of Gaza - and not to free Gilad Shalit (a move I opposed at the time) - then the only reason to ban harmless exports is to prevent Hamas from earning money with which to buy weapons. While that is a worthy cause, I'm not convinced that the amount they would have earned from selling lulavim is especially significant. For example, in 2005, the wholesale price of lulavim was NIS 10; you can bet that the growers are receiving significantly less.Be that as it may, there was already a call to boycott the sale of Lulavim from Gaza--before the deal with Gaza was cancelled.
Finally, one cannot escape the feeling that Gisha and Gunness wish to punish religious Israeli Jews for the Gaza blockade by denying them access to lulavim.
So the issue has quieted down.
Technorati Tag: Israel and Sukkot.