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Occupied Golan: ICRC to transfer record quantity of apples to Syria proper

14-02-2011 News Release 11/32

Geneva/Damascus/Tel Aviv (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is to start transferring 12,000 tonnes of apples from the occupied Golan to Syria proper on 15 February.

The first truckloads of apples are expected to cross the demarcation line at the Kuneitra crossing point around 10.00 hrs local time.

"We are expecting to transfer to Syria proper 12,000 tonnes of apples grown by Syrian farmers living in the occupied Golan. That’s three times more than in 2005, when the ICRC first organized such an operation," said Marianne Gasser, the ICRC's head of delegation in Damascus. "Selling the apples in Syria and other countries represents a significant source of income for farmers living in the occupied Golan," she added.

Over a period of approximately ten weeks, three ICRC trucks will pass back and forth across the demarcation line that separates the Israeli-occupied Golan from the rest of Syria.

"The transfer of apples across the demarcation line is one of the very few crossings that take place at Kuneitra," said Raoul Bittel, the ICRC's deputy head of delegation in Israel and the occupied territories. "Transferring apples from the occupied Golan to Syria proper requires a lengthy process of coordination with the authorities concerned on both sides, and with the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force stationed in Kuneitra. This is only possible because both Israel and Syria consider the ICRC a trusted neutral intermediary," he added.

The ICRC has been carrying out humanitarian activities in the occupied Golan since 1967 and has maintained a permanent presence there since 1988. In its role as neutral intermediary, the ICRC facilitates the crossing of pilgrims and students from the occupied Golan to Syria proper and helps with the practical arrangements for weddings across the demarcation line.

"The ICRC’s priority in the occupied Golan is to maintain or re-establish family links between the members of Syrian families separated by the demarcation line who would otherwise be unable to maintain contact," Ms. Gasser concluded.

For more information, please contact:
Saleh Dabbakeh, ICRC Damascus, tel: +963 993 700 847 or +963 11 333 90 34 (Arabic/English)
Cecilia Goin, ICRC Jerusalem, tel: +972 52 601 91 50 or +972 2 59 17 900 (English/Spanish)
Nadia Dibsy, ICRC Jerusalem, tel: +972 52 601 91 48 or +972 2 59 17 900 (Arabic)
Ran Goldstein, ICRC Tel Aviv, tel: +972 3 524 52 86 or +972 52 2 757 517 (Hebrew)
Dorothea Krimitsas, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 79 251 93 18 or +41 22 730 25 90 (English/French)