Twenty-one days after the June 20, 2010 cabinet decision, Israel allowed Gaza merchants to import raw materials for industry. This followed three years of prohibiting the entrance of raw materials to Gaza, as part of a declared policy of “economic warfare“. Last week fabrics, empty cans, thread and industrial cocoa were brought in.
Although Israel states that the number of trucks carrying goods into the Gaza Strip has risen by 70% since the cabinet decision, when seen in context, that number still only accounts for 34% of the needs of the residents of Gaza and its economy (in 2005 the number of trucks entering Gaza was 10,400 per month).
Furthermore, when you zoom out from the numbers and percentages, it turns out that even though Israel allowed the Palestinian Coordination Committee (the body in charge of coordinating and transferring requests from private sector merchants to the Israeli side, not including the agricultural sector) to include raw materials in its daily lists, there is still a long way to go until those materials actually reach Gaza. Since an Israeli permit is subject to the capacity constraints of the crossings, and since Israel has permitted only one of the crossings (Kerem Shalom) to be fully operational, most requests by merchants for raw materials are not even submitted. Last week, for example, the average number of trucks crossing per day, including via the conveyer belt at the Karni crossing, was 180, including 50 trucks of humanitarian supplies and inputs for the agricultural sector. Under these circumstances, the Palestinian Coordination Committee has its hands full prioritizing the items and trying to find a place in the daily quotas for the various industries in Gaza requesting goods. The Committee estimates that to meet the current applications for raw materials it will be necessary to allow 500 trucks through per day.
Under these circumstances it will take months until the first orders of basic raw materials for industry will be able to enter Gaza and since Israel continues to insist on banning export, it is not clear how it intends to implement its promise “to expand economic activity” in the Gaza Strip, which depends on the passage of people and goods in both directions.
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While we wait for Gaza’s economy to bounce back and in better news … tomorrow, over 6,000 kids in Gaza will attempt to break the world record for the number of basketballs bounced simultaneously as part of UNRWA’s “Great Gaza Global Bounce”. To see a short clip about the attempt, click below.