70 Palestinian importers from Judea and Samaria visited the Ashdod port for a guided tour on Thursday (February 2), improving their understanding of export and import procedures at the port to facilitate current procedures, prevent future issues and thus create a more stable foundation for the growing Palestinian commerce.
Organized by the Civil Administration, the tour was the result of repeated discussions between the Civil Administration and Palestinian importers who voiced the desire to familiarize themselves with Israel's ports. A similar tour at the Haifa port was held three months ago.
The port visits will familiarize the importers with the procedures transferring goods into Israel from ports overseas. This will help prevent future issues and allow for goods to smoothly flow into Judea and Samaria.
"We are in daily contact with the importers and the ports in order to help with any problems, whether in the release of goods from customs inspections or moving them through the different crossings," explained Deputy Head of the Civil Administration Economics department, Maj. Sultan Hamdan. "This is a complex operation that requires a lot of preparation, like issuing security passes and coordinating with the Ashdod port, though it was necessary and we welcome the opportunity to improve our relationship, strengthen cooperation with the importers, and hear what they have to say."
During the tour, the importers became familiar with the daily operations in the port of Ashdod and were given a brief history, all translated into Arabic by Lt. Col Dheksa Salma. They were then shown an visual presentation detailing the port area and docking and unloading procedure for cargo ships. The presentation sought to explain how their merchandise is received and help them improve their operations and relationship with the port.
"Importers want to come and see for themselves how goods are transferred from the port to their warehouses in Judea and Samaria," said head of the Israeli Desk of Palestinian Imports and Exports, Ms. Rasha Shrakia. "This is a great opportunity to come and see how the port functions, in addition to resolve problems in document submission, work orders, and especially raise awareness of the language barriers.
The participants continued to discuss customs laws and import procedures. "The procedures of receiving goods are clearer to me than ever," said businessman Juad Abu Snineh, who lives in Hebron, owns large warehouses in Israel and Spain, and moves 6,000 cargoes a month through the Ashdod port. "This visit will make it much easier for me to make deliveries of my goods worldwide," added Abu Snineh.
"Additional relevant and constructive tours are planned in the near future," said Maj. Hamdan, "We will continue these tours and help the Palestinians strengthen their economy."