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Occupied Golan: ICRC starts transfer of apples into Syria

02-03-2010 News Release 10/29

Geneva/Tel Aviv/Damascus (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) today started transferring apples through the Kuneitra crossing point between the occupied Golan and Syria proper.

Up to 10,000 tonnes of apples will be transported in an operation expected to last approximately eight weeks.

©ICRC/V. Hinz Gugliuzza /il-e-01947 
Three ICRC trucks pass through the Kuneitra crossing carrying apples. 
The ICRC is acting as a neutral intermediary at the request of the farmers of the occupied Golan and with the approval of the Syrian and Israeli authorities. The transfer of apples across the demarcation line is one of the very few crossings that take place from the Golan into Syria proper. The sale of fruit is the main source of income for the Syrian farmers of the Golan.

" Th e transfer of this year's harvest will be the largest in a series of such operations which began in 2005, " said Marianne Gasser, the ICRC's head of delegation in Syria. " We are very pleased that it is taking place and that it has generated interest on both sides. We hope it will help raise awareness of other humanitarian concerns – for example the fact that family members separated by the demarcation line cannot cross the gates to maintain family ties. "

The three ICRC trucks to be used in the operation, driven by Kenyan staff, passed through the Kuneitra crossing around midday today. The operation has been coordinated with all the parties concerned, including the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF).

This will be the fifth time the ICRC has conducted such an operation at the Kuneitra crossing. The first transfer, of 4,000 tonnes, took place in 2005. After transporting 5,000 tonnes of apples in 2006, the ICRC transferred 8,000 tonnes in both 2007 and 2009. Owing to a poor harvest, no transfer took place in 2008. 

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 a trusted neutral intermediary, the ICRC provides a range of services addressing the consequences of restrictions placed on the movement of the population as well as legal and administrative difficulties resulting from the occupation.

  For further information, please contact:
  Dorothea Krimitsas, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 25 90 or +41 79 251 93 18
  Nadia Dibsy, ICRC Jerusalem, tel: +972 2 582 88 45 or +972 52 601 91 48
  Andrea Barsony, ICRC Tel Aviv, tel: +972 3 584 52 86 or +972 52 601 91 24
  Ran Goldstein, ICRC Tel Aviv, tel: +972 3 524 52 86 or +972 52 2 757 517
  Kate Burton, ICRC Damascus, tel: +963 9 333 08 673