(16-JUL-10):Hamas Panicked When Israel Eased Blockade
A7 News 16-07-10 by Hana Levi Julian
Israel's decision to ease its blockade on Gaza has had an odd effect on the region: it has apparently thrown Gaza retailers into a panic, causing them to pressure their rulers.
As a result, the Hamas terrorist organization is fighting the implementation of the crossing agreements proposed by the Palestinian Authority and Israel. This, despite years of bitter complaints from Hamas, albeit unsubstantiated, that the blockade by Israel was causing a humanitarian crisis in the region.
According to the Gaza-based Al Ayyam newspaper, clothing retailers are claiming that rather than a lack, there is now an overabundance of selections in their market.
The problem is that since Hamas has not paid salaries, there are few customers available to buy the goods.
Soft drink manufacturers and those in the furniture industry are also complaining, as they don't want to compete with the lower prices of Israeli goods.
Both have called on the de facto Hamas government to prevent the entry of Israeli products, citing their ability to meet the needs of the local market themselves and fears they may have to close their factories if they cannot meet the competition.
Due to the goods that continue to be "imported" through the Gaza smuggler tunnels, as well as those that enter the region by truck, there is now a surplus of products in the small market.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri claimed the agreement is "part of the plot by Israelis, Arabs and Europeans to restore the rule of the [Fatah-led] Palestinian Authority in Gaza."
Aid to Gaza Up by 60% While Hamas backpedals on its claims that Israel has been starving its population by limiting the flow of aid through the crossings, the new policy change has resulted in what Gaza retailers are calling a glut of goods in the region.
Data gleaned from the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (CoGAT) for June showed a 60 percent increase in aid transferred from Israel to Gaza via the Kerem Shalom Crossing.
A new joint task force comprised of personnel from the Palestinian Authority and the IDF's CoGAT was created to oversee the policy changes and work on advancing coordinated projects to be supervised by the international community. The task force also continues to work on finding ways to increase the capacity of goods being transferred daily through the crossings, according to a statement from the IDF Spokesman's Office.
More than 3,000 trucks crossed into Gaza through Kerem Shalom and the Karni Crossing last month. In addition, the Jewish State continued to supply the region with heating gas (4 million liters), cooking gas (4,000 tons) and diesel fuel (approximately 600,000 liters).
Some 2,500 PA residents of Gaza entered Israel as well during the month of June, passing through the Erez Crossing, which is specifically intended for human traffic. The number is a 25 percent jump over previous figures.
In total, the number of trucks making their way into Gaza through the Israeli crossings has increased by 12 percent, according to the CoGAT.