Thursday, January 20, 2011

Wheat, fuel shortage looms in Gaza

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PressTV - Wheat, fuel shortage looms in Gaza:

Fri Jan 21, 2011 1:0AM
Yousef al-Helou, Press TV, Gaza

"Long lines of people huddling together in Gaza is a sign of shortage in a land that has not had much to spare. This time wheat and cooking gas are in short supply, but the problem may soon get worse as Israel has said it will soon close the Karni crossing in eastern Gaza city, leaving Karm Abu Salem as the only point for imports into the strip.

The wheat shortage has forced many mills and bakeries to shut down - sad news for people for most of whom bread is the staple diet.
Officials say the crisis started to emerge 3 months ago after Israel decided to open the Karni crossing for one day instead of two adding that Gaza needs at least 4000 tons of wheat per week whereas in the past two weeks only 400 tons of the grain have been allowed in.
The decision to close the crossing was agreed upon by the West Bank based Palestinian Authority and the Israeli army. Hamas has slammed the agreement as a crime and collusion with Israel over the blockade of the Gaza Strip.
Last June and amid growing international outcry following a deadly attack by Israeli forces on an aid flotilla, Israel announced it would ease the land blockade of the Gaza Strip and allow more civilian goods to enter the Palestinian territory.
But the import of goods into Gaza is fitful and unreliable. A report released by aid agencies and rights groups in November last year revealed that import levels were only just over one-third of what they used to be before 2007 when the blockade was originally tightened.

And shortage of cooking gas which is also used for warming houses during the winter has added to the problems of people and forced some to forgo a warm meal or to use other methods of keeping their places warm. According to officials Gaza currently needs at least 250 cubic tons of gas to overcome the crisis
About a month ago, Israel permanently shut down one of its commercial crossings used for importing fuel into the strip, and another crossing which is used to import grain and wheat and other goods will be also closed down permanently at the end of January. This leaves Karm Abu Salam the only commercial crossing in operation, a move which officials say will lead to more shortages in the future.

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