GAZA CITY: A refugee from Syria recently opened a bakery here, drawing long lines of customers eager to taste meat and cheese pastries with the special flavors of Damascus – a rare bright spot in the long shadow that the Syrian civil war is casting over the Gaza Strip.The conflict in Syria, some 300 km away, is increasingly hurting Hamas-ruled Gaza financially, according to several officials in the Islamic militant group and in Islamic charities.
They say Iran, an ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad and a former major financial backer of Hamas, has reduced monthly cash transfers because Hamas refuses to side with the Syrian regime.
Islamic charities abroad that used to donate heavily to Gaza have been redirecting some of their aid to Syria, forcing local charities to scale back programs, aid officials said.
“All of Gaza is suffering from this,” said Noha Zaki of Gaza City’s Amal orphanage, home to 100 children. Zaki said donations to her charity are down by 50 percent.
In a further costly twist, more than 1,500 people fleeing the fighting in Syria, most with family ties to Gaza, have arrived in the coastal territory since last year, with hundreds more en route.
Bassel Shunar, co-owner of the new bakery – “Damashki” or “The Guy From Damascus” – had a soft landing. But aid officials say they have trouble finding jobs and homes for other newcomers in crowded, impoverished Gaza. more