Anyone buying precious metals in Gaza will be getting some stamped by the Precious Metals Department which examines delivers which arrive from abroad and stamp them ready for them to go on sale in local markets.
Its Director Jamal Matar confirmed that the department takes samples of all metals imported from abroad to be sure they conform to specifications and standards. Pieces that violate standards adopted by the department are “broken” and returned to the importing trader.
Matar added that the department’s duties also include conducting inspections of jewellery shops to ensure all metals are stamped. He noted that those proven to have violated standards are prosecuted.
Like other departments and ministries in the Gaza Strip, the Precious Metals Department is facing difficulties and obstacles given the lack of sufficient staff. It also faces difficulty in bringing in equipment and raw materials needed for metal inspection as a result of the 12-year-old Israeli siege. This has meant the equipment used by the ministry is old.
The department, which is a part of the Ministry of Economy, is hoping to bring in a laser device to stamp the metals and another to examine stamps in order to prevent fraud.
According to Matar, there are more than 25 tonnes of gold in the Gaza Strip, both in the people’s homes and in the 240-260 shops that sell the commodity.
He pointed out that the precious metals come to his department from the 40 factories and workshops in the Gaza Strip, from abroad through the Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing or from Egypt.
Matar noted that since its establishment, the department has stamped 50 tonnes of gold, and made over 44,000 visits in the past 12 years in the context of its inspections and monitoring in order to ensure standards.