In a Rotten State
GAZA CITY, Aug 29 (IPS) - Abu Abed can't make a profit, and although 54 years old, he still has not married. "I can't pay my rent, I can't afford a wedding."
His shop, roughly 3m by 4m, costs him more than 3,500 dollars a year in rent alone.
His wares are laid out on tables on a busy pedestrian street in the Saha market area in
One large bag of grain filled with the cheaply made toys cost 30 dollars to purchase, but the tunnel trip added another 70 dollars to Abu Abed's expenditures. "I can make maybe 20 dollars when I sell these toys, but that will take two or three months."
Now that the month of Ramadan is under way, festive decorations and toys are among his stock. Yet with unemployment in
"That toy is 20 shekels," Abed says pointing to a plastic toy. "It should only cost maybe five or six shekels. People don't want to buy it." But if Abu Abed wants to break even, he cannot sell the toy for less than 20 shekels.
For Ghazi Attab, a fruit vendor in Saha market, regular crossing procedures couldn't come quickly enough. He estimates that 30 percent of his produce is spoiled due to long hours in the sun waiting for Israeli clearance to enter
"The Israelis don't allow the fruit to enter
Hazem, father of four, has a store in a different region of Saha. The shelves are stocked with shampoo, hair and skin creams, cosmetics, toothpaste, cleaning products, and other everyday items. All of his stock was brought through the tunnels, at a high price.
Before the Israeli siege on
"I'd buy goods coming from
After Hamas took power in
"Suddenly it was taking two months for imports to enter
Aside from losing a direct route of importing, Hazem has more than 80,000 dollars at stake.
"When I bought goods from
The majority of items on Hazem's list are banned. Two containers full of these items sit in a storage facility in
Among the items are underwear, socks, caps, gloves, belts, perfumes, toothpicks, toothbrushes, scarves.
"We have to pay import tax to
"But I can't send the stuff back to
According to the Palestinian Chamber of Commerce in
Over half of the containers have been held in storage since 2007. The Chamber of Commerce reports direct losses of an estimated 10 million dollars, including storage and handling costs, and indirect losses in losing contracts and ties with outside suppliers.
On Aug 23, the new school year began for nearly 450,000 school children in
Currently, the Karem Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) crossing is the only entrance point for commercial goods after the better equipped and larger Karni crossing was closed by Israeli authorities. Karem Abu Salem does not operate at full capacity, and there are long delays in inspection of Gaza-bound goods.
A report this month by the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) notes that during the first five months of 2007, an average of 583 trucks entered
OCHA further notes that "95 percent of the industrial establishments, or 3,750 establishments, were forced to shut down, and the remaining five percent were forced to reduce their level of activity."
With crossings closed or barely functioning, most of