Gaza Siege Harshness Continues
Israel's committing slow-motion genocide in Gaza.
by Stephen Lendman
Israel's claimed easing is false. Besieged Gazans remain isolated. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) assessed conditions in January.
Except for limited amounts of agricultural products, Gaza's export economy's suffering. In addition, imports of basic needs and raw materials fall well below minimal needs.
Karm Abu Salem crossing was closed nearly 30% of the time. Incoming truckloads are 28.5% of pre-siege levels.
Out of 60 million flowers produced annually, export permission's granted for only a tiny fraction. In 2005, 70 truckloads of agricultural products were exported daily. Now it's a shadow of that amount.
Before June 2007, 570 average daily truckloads entered Gaza. Now it's around 150.
Karm Abu Salem crossing handles commercial traffic only. Currently, it doesn't meet Gaza's needs. Previously, goods entered through four crossings. In March 2011, Israel began demolishing the main al-Mentar (Karni) commercial crossing.
It once handled 75% of Strip needs. Its closure and dependence on Karm Abu Salem severely restricted movement of goods. Moreover, high transportation expenses increased import prices, and farmers incurred higher export costs.
Al-Mentar crossing opened in 1995. According to the 2005 Crossings Agreement, its operational capacity allowed 400 export trucks daily and 600 entering. Yet Israel's bureaucracy prevented attaining these levels even before imposed siege restrictions.
Gaza's commercial crossing is important. During Cast Lead it was destroyed. In addition, Private Transport Association secretary-general Jihad Salim said shipping a container from Ashdod, Israel to Gaza cost more than from China to Ashdod. It's because onerous import fees impose burdensome expenses.
Besides agriculture, Gaza's export economy relies heavily on textiles and furniture. Producers are hard-pressed to survive. Many can't and shut down.
In January, 2,800 tons of cooking gas entered Gaza. It represents less than half what's needed. Israel permitted 330,000 liters of diesel and 70,000 liters of benzene. It's far less than what Gazans need. As a result, tunnel smuggling's essential.
A total ban on construction materials remains for private sector use. International organizations are permitted limited quantities, including 70,000 tons of construction aggregate, 7,400 tons of cement, and 1,435 tons of iron. Limited amounts of tar, other construction materials, plumbing tools, ceramics and marble were also allowed.