Dissatisfaction is growing in Gaza at the shortages of basic essentials and the high prices caused by the Egyptian army’s closure of the tunnels under the Rafah border of the besieged territory. The feeling is exacerbated by this coinciding with the holy month of Ramadan.
The economic situation in the Gaza Strip is such that poverty and unemployment levels remain very high, thanks to Israel’s blockade. With insecure incomes, families are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet. The hike in prices couldn’t have come at a worse time and people are getting into debt to pay for their daily needs.
According to shopkeeper Abdel Raouf Mansour, business is very difficult, with the price of some goods doubling as a result of the border and tunnel closures. This, added Abdulrahman Rajab, affects the working class people more than everyone else as they do not have a fixed salary or other income on which they can depend. Families have to pick and choose what they buy very carefully, said Umm Nidal, who is dependent on support from her taxi-driver son.
Economic analyst Samir Abu Mudllalah said that the preparation for Ramadan has been affected by the current situation. The ongoing Israeli blockade, as well as the Egyptian border closure, is to blame. At the moment, said Abu Mudllalah, Israel allows only 150 trucks a day to enter through the Kerem Abu Salem border crossing, whereas at least 700 are needed to provide for the Strip’s daily requirements. Shortfalls have, until now, been made up by goods coming through the tunnels under the border with Egypt.
“The existing food supply in the Strip is only enough for several more weeks,” he warned, as he called for government oversight of merchants to prevent monopolies and exploitation.
This, he suggested, demonstrates the urgency of national reconciliation so that the Palestinians can go to the international courts to put pressure on Israel to life the siege of the Gaza Strip and ease the economic pressure on ordinary people.