Thursday, 26 September 2013

Gaza’s construction sector still crushed by siege


“From 1975 to 2007, our business had been quite sustainable and profitable. Since 2007, the business has been badly affected by the Israeli blockade,” said Ahmad al-Breim, a building supplies trader in Gaza, as he waited for his first shipment of raw materials from Israel in more than six years on Monday.

Last week, Israeli occupation authorities decided to allow an additional fifty truckloads of raw construction materials including cement, steel and concrete into Gaza, but in quantities that fall far short of the territory’s needs. Israel previously allowed in just twenty truckloads daily for the private sector.

“We have relied on underground tunnels from Egypt, but prices and availability of goods have been fluctuating,” al-Breim told The Electronic Intifada.

Since early July, when Egypt’s military regime began a renewed assault on the underground tunnels, the price of one ton of cement spiked at $280, al-Breim said.

By 21 September, only about ten of three hundred tunnels were still operating, according to a report this week from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (“The humanitarian impact of reduced access between Gaza and Egypt,” 23 September 2013 [PDF]).

This meant that less than 100 tons of supplies were coming in per day, compared with 7,500 tons daily before the Egyptian campaign. more

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