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OPT: Israel allows flower shipments from Gaza to Europe

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GAZA, Dec. 10 (Xinhua) -- Israel Thursday allowed Palestinian farmers to export flowers from the blockaded Gaza Strip to Europe through Israeli crossings.

"The Israeli authorities allowed us today to export 28,400 roses to Europe," said Saleh Khalil, director of Gaza flower and strawberry farmers' association.

Thursday's shipment weighed one truckload and passed through Kerem Shalom crossing in southeastern Gaza, he told Xinhua.

"We have also got a permission to export another shipment next Thursday," Khalil added.

Israel imposes a tight closure on the Hamas-run Gaza since 2007.

In February, Gaza farmers succeeded to export flowers to European markets on the eve of the Valentine's Day.

The limited exporting of flowers, and sometimes strawberry, mostly comes as a result of European pressure on Israel.

The Netherlands sponsored a project to plant flowers in Gaza for the European markets. About 54 farmers benefit from the project.

If Israel keeps allowing flower exports, farmers in Gaza would provide 40 million roses for this season that ends in May 2010.