Monday, 28 October 2013

Egypt tunnel closure 'costs Gaza $230 million monthly'


GAZA CITY (AFP) -- Egypt's closure of tunnels used to smuggle goods into the Gaza Strip has caused monthly losses of $230 million to its economy, a Hamas official said Sunday.

The "closure of the tunnels caused heavy losses to the industry, commerce, agriculture, transport and construction sectors" of around $230 million monthly, said Hatem Oweida, deputy economy minister of Hamas.

Essential materials were for years smuggled from Egypt into Gaza through tunnels, bypassing Israel's blockade, but the Egyptian army recently destroyed many of those after ousting president Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, a Hamas ally.

Oweida said that the coastal Palestinian territory had relied on the tunnels to meet at least 40 percent of its construction supplies and raw material needs.

Gaza's unemployment rate would hit 43 percent if official border crossings remained shut and the tunnels were destroyed, Oweida warned. more

Israeli airstrikes target northern Gaza


BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli airstrikes targeted the northern Gaza Strip on Monday, Israel's army said, in the first airstrike on Gaza in over two months.

"In response to the numerous rockets and mortars launched at Israel in the past 24 hours, IAF aircraft targeted two concealed rocket launchers in the northern Gaza Strip. Direct hits were confirmed," a statement said.

Witnesses said the attack targeted a training ground used by militants from the armed wing of Gaza's ruling Hamas movement west of Beit Lahiya, but no-one was hurt.

Several rockets were fired from Gaza early Monday, with one rocket intercepted by the Iron Dome system above Ashkelon, Israel's army said.

A mortar shell was fired from Gaza on Sunday, the army added.

No group has claimed responsibility for firing the rockets. more