Gaza turmoil puts fallow-year deal in jeopardy

Tuesday, June 19, 2007 |  by Staff Writer

Hamas' military takeover of the Gaza Strip has put in jeopardy a deal that would have allowed Israeli flour producers to maintain profit levels during the biblically-commanded fallow year.

Known in Hebrew as the “shemittah,” the Bible commands Israel to let its land lie fallow every seventh year, just as the people are commanded to rest every seventh day.

In today's fast-moving economy, taking a year off work is simply not an option for Israeli farmers. However, rabbinical authorities in Israel will not grant kosher certification to any agricultural produce during a fallow year.

The solution this year, which was worked out by Israel's Ministry of Agriculture, was for Israeli flour producers to exchange their flour for that brought into the Gaza Strip by UN aid agencies. The area's new Hamas overlords are unlikely to honor that agreement.

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