World

Gaza exports produce to Israel for first time since Hamas militants seized territory in 2007

  • In this Wednesday, March 11, 2015 photo, Palestinian workers load boxes with eggplants to export them to Israel, in the town of Deir el-Balah, central Gaza Strip. Israel on Thursday began importing Gaza’s agricultural produce for the first time in about eight years, partly easing one of many restrictions imposed on the Palestinian territory since Islamic Hamas militant group seized it in 2007. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

    In this Wednesday, March 11, 2015 photo, Palestinian workers load boxes with eggplants to export them to Israel, in the town of Deir el-Balah, central Gaza Strip. Israel on Thursday began importing Gaza’s agricultural produce for the first time in about eight years, partly easing one of many restrictions imposed on the Palestinian territory since Islamic Hamas militant group seized it in 2007. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this Wednesday, March 11, 2015 photo, Palestinian workers load boxes with eggplants and tomatoes to export them to Israel, in the town of Deir el-Balah, central Gaza Strip. Israel on Thursday began importing Gaza’s agricultural produce for the first time in about eight years, partly easing one of many restrictions imposed on the Palestinian territory since Islamic Hamas militant group seized it in 2007. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

    In this Wednesday, March 11, 2015 photo, Palestinian workers load boxes with eggplants and tomatoes to export them to Israel, in the town of Deir el-Balah, central Gaza Strip. Israel on Thursday began importing Gaza’s agricultural produce for the first time in about eight years, partly easing one of many restrictions imposed on the Palestinian territory since Islamic Hamas militant group seized it in 2007. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this Wednesday, March 11, 2015 photo, Palestinian workers load boxes with eggplants to export them to Israel, in the town of Deir el-Balah, central Gaza Strip. Israel on Thursday began importing Gaza’s agricultural produce for the first time in about eight years, partly easing one of many restrictions imposed on the Palestinian territory since Islamic Hamas militant group seized it in 2007. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

    In this Wednesday, March 11, 2015 photo, Palestinian workers load boxes with eggplants to export them to Israel, in the town of Deir el-Balah, central Gaza Strip. Israel on Thursday began importing Gaza’s agricultural produce for the first time in about eight years, partly easing one of many restrictions imposed on the Palestinian territory since Islamic Hamas militant group seized it in 2007. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)  (The Associated Press)

Israeli authorities are permitting Gaza farmers to export produce to Israel for the first time since Hamas seized control of the territory in 2007.

Palestinian and Israeli officials say some 27 tons of tomatoes and 5 tons of eggplants are leaving Gaza on Thursday for markets in Israel.

Gazans used to export hundreds of tons of vegetables to Israel daily, until Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade in 2007. Israel says the blockade prevents Hamas, an Islamic militant group, from getting weapons, but critics say it amounts to collective punishment. Israel has eased some of the restrictions recently.

The Gaza vegetable exports will help devout Jews observe a farming sabbatical prescribed by the Bible that falls once every seven years.