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Jun 30, 2010

Gaza - Business as usual !

Before ------------------------------------ After

June 28th , 2010

Palestinian Militant who Fired RPG Targeted by IAF

In a joint IDF-ISA activity, the IAF targeted a Palestinian militant who fired an anti-tank missile at IDF soldiers in the northern Gaza Strip, near the Nahal Oz crossing. A direct hit was identified.

No IDF soldiers were harmed in the incident however a mortar shell did damage an IDF vehicle in the same area earlier today.

Over 90 rockets and mortar shells have been fired at Israeli territory since the beginning of 2010, and approximately 330 rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel since the end of Operation Cast Lead.

The IDF remains committed to protecting the citizens of Israel and will continue to act against terror. The IDF holds Hamas solely responsible for terror emanating from the Gaza Strip.

Starving Palestinians in Gaza, Remember?

Israeli products are smuggled Via "Tunnels" into Egypt !!!

Hamas gets " import tax" when the stuff comes in,

and "export tax" when it goes out !

Gaza's entire business community is in limbo, following Israel's announcement last week that it would significantly loosen its 3-year-old chokehold on Gaza, after coming under harsh international criticism over its deadly raid on an Gaza-bound international flotilla of pro-Palestinian activists.

We've had very slow traffic these days, said one tunnel owner, who only gave his first name, Ayman, for fear of repercussions from Egypt which has cracked down on smuggling. Merchants are waiting to find out what items are going to be allowed through the Israeli crossings.

Under the blockade, imposed after Hamas' violent Gaza takeover in 2007, Israel only permitted the import of a few dozen items, such as basic foods and medicines. In response, smuggling flourished, and a wide range of goods from fuel to candy to cars and livestock were brought in through tunnels.

Now Israel promises to let in everything except weapons and dual use items that could be diverted by Hamas for military purposes.

However, a broad definition of dual use could keep out many raw materials and construction supplies, seen as key to restarting Gaza's devastated factories and building industry. Throughout the blockade, Israel has only allowed in a trickle of construction materials, and only if destined for an international aid project.

In coming days, Israel is to release a list of products that would continue to be banned, and Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said it will include metal and pipes, which are used to manufacture rockets, fertilizer used to manufacture explosives and a number of similar items.

Even the least problematic category, consumer goods, is shrouded in mystery.Traders don't know when the expanded flow of goods will begin.

Maj. Guy Inbar, an Israeli Defense Ministry official, said the number of trucks deliver goods via Israel's main cargo crossing into Gaza is expected to double to about 250 a day within the next month or two.

Gaza would need about 900 truckloads a day, particularly of long-banned construction supplies and raw materials for industry, according to Ali Abu Shahla, a Gaza business leader.

The Hamas economics minister, Ziad al-Zaza, has said his government may block some imports, such as juice and soda, to protect local industry. Hamas has been profiting from the tunnels, both directly and through taxes, and it's not clear whether it would take steps to try to protect the smuggling business.

Many merchants say they prefer to import through Israeli crossings. Dealing with smugglers has been a headache, they say, because supplies, prices and quality are unpredictable.

No doubt, the legal border crossings are better for me, said trader Jibril Shaker. We are in a test phase now, and it's too early to tell if we will say goodbye to the tunnels.

As a result of such caution, tunnel traffic has dropped sharply, said Issa Nashar, mayor of the Gaza border town of Rafah, which supplies electricity and other services to the smugglers. He had no firm figures.

Ayman, the tunnel owner, said he is focusing operations on goods guaranteed to make a profit, like cement and fuel. He's also using the downtime to fix up his tunnel.

The tunnels run side by side under the border, just a few meters apart from each other, with a tent covering each entrance. On normal days, the tent city resembles an industrial zone, with generators humming and trucks rumbling along sandy paths to collect merchandise.

On a recent morning, only a few trucks were waiting for deliveries, and the only shipments were of cement and steel rods.

Nearby, the owner of a wholesaler's warehouse for smuggled goods was trying to anticipate what items Israel would allow in.

Since the raid on the Gaza-bound flotilla, Israel has already started easing the blockade slightly. Several dozen more types of goods have come in, including food and household items.

For 44-year-old Abed, the warehouse owner, this has meant a loss of $10,000 on a shipment of Turkish jam, after he said Israel recently lifted the ban on jam imports. The Turkish merchandise is 30 percent more expensive because of the higher cost of smuggling.

His warehouse was stuffed with goods, including chocolate, gum, soda, juice, rice, oil, milk and candy. Customers bought goods or placed orders, and young men loaded shipments newly arrived from the tunnels into white plastic bags and boxes.

Sitting behind a small desk and smoking, Abed talked on his cell phone to business partners in Egypt and Gaza merchants dealing with Israeli products.

He spoke on condition of anonymity, because he also has a legitimate job and feared problems with his employer.

Abed said he's now reviewing each item to see if it's still worth smuggling. For example, he said he'll keep bringing Lipton's tea from Egypt because it's one-third cheaper than the Israel import.

At the end of the supply chain, in a Gaza City supermarket, owner Maher Abdel-Hadi said he'll buy from smugglers and legitimate traders as long as the price is right.

For example, he said he can now get Swiss roll cake from Israel for eight shekels, or about $2.05, a piece, compared to 11 shekels, or $2.85, for the smuggled merchandise.

Abdel-Hadi said he prefers orderly imports, but hopes tunnels will keep operating as a fallback in case Israel ever decides to retighten the blockade.

We will remain hostages to the mood of the Israelis, he said. We don't trust their words.

Some of the hundreds of tunnels under the border with Egypt have suspended work. Others now only bring in the most sought-after items, such as cement, steel, fuel and cigarettes. Some Gaza shopowners and traders have frozen orders of smuggled goods until they find out whether merchandise coming in legally from Israel will be cheaper.

1 comment:

Will said...

Hi Alex .
Very interesting post.I think i'll put a link to this tomorrow.