Sunday, 13 December 2015

Israeli restrictions destroying Gaza’s furniture industry

Life as a carpenter in the besieged Gaza Strip is proving frustrating for Nahed al-Horani.

Suffocating Israeli restrictions are denying carpenters in Gaza the essentials of their trade: wood, carpentry tools and paint.

Israel bans or severely restricts “dual use” construction materials which it says can be used for military purposes, such as building tunnels, as well as for civilian needs.

These restrictions profoundly impact ordinary Palestinians in Gaza.

“All these unbearable constraints on our main equipment prevent us from having our products in the finest order,” al-Horani said. “The impact on the quality of our work has become severe.”

Al-Horani and his brother Yousef used to work in two separate shops in Deir al-Balah, a town in the central Gaza Strip, before the siege Israel imposed on Gaza eight years ago curtailed the industry.

The two decided to combine their work in one shop to pool their resources.

“Things are scarcer than ever,” al-Horani said.

Six months ago, Israel began preventing entry to Gaza the thick wood best suited to make furniture. Al-Horani said that he is now forced to glue thinner strips of wood together in order to get around the problem.

The Israeli blockade is systematically destroying the furniture industry in Gaza, according to al-Horani, and the craft itself is on the decline, as fewer customers can afford rising prices.

“I am afraid that my career is no longer enough to support my family,” he said.

Daily power outages are also taking their toll, al-Horani added, making work debilitatingly cumbersome. more

Israeli forces detain Palestinian prisoner released in Shalit exchange

Israeli forces early Sunday detained a former Palestinian prisoner who was released in the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal, according to a local prisoners’ committee.

Fahd Sharaya was detained from the Balata refugee camp in the occupied West Bank city of Nablus, the coordinator for a local Palestinian prisoners’ committee, Imad al-Din Ishteiwi, told Ma’an.

Sharaya was initially sentenced to 14 years in jail but released in the Shalit exchange in 2011 after serving 10 years.

The former prisoner is a member of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades -- a military wing of the Fatah movement -- and is married with four children, Ishteiwi said, adding that Sharaya was in poor health at the time of his re-arrest.

An Israeli army spokesperson had no immediate information on Sharaya’s detention.

Several Palestinians released during the Shalit deal have since been rearrested or exiled to the Gaza Strip. Over 1,000 Palestinian detainees were released in the Egypt-brokered 2011 agreement between Hamas and Israel in exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was held captive by Hamas for five years. more