Trucks enter Gaza at the Karm Abu Salem commercial border crossing with Israel. They carry vital supplies into what is sometimes described as an “open prison”.
Now that the Palestinian Authority has taken back control of Gaza’s border crossings, there’s mounting hope that more goods will be allowed into the beleaguered strip of land, although neither Israel nor Egypt are likely to allow the trade of so-called “dual-use” items such as concrete or steel, which can be used to build tunnels and armaments.
No more tarifs
Since the reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah brokered by Egypt, the tarifs of up to 25% previously imposed by Hamas on Gaza’s merchants have already been lifted. In most cases, these savings have been passed onto consumers in the form of lower prices.
To give a stark example, a Kia Piccanto compact car now retails at 17,000 euros: 2,000 less than the 19,000 euros it would have cost before the reconciliation deal.
Shop-owners hope that these more competitive prices will entice customers back in.
In one electronics shop, Hiba Mahdi, a Marketing Assistant explains:
“The economic situation in Gaza will be better after the abolition of the tax we used to pay at the Karm Abu Salem crossing, making things better for the customer because prices will go down.”
What use cheaper appliances?
Cheaper televisions won’t be any use to a population left without power for up to 20 hours a day, however.
When the Palestinian Authority” stopped paying Gaza’s electricity bills”:http://www.euronews.com/2017/05/23/gaza-struggles-under-blockade last spring, it meant that there was only power for three-four hours per day, forcing the large majority of families without private generators to resort to cooking on open fires. They manage without fridges, and children do their homework by candlelight.
The lack of power to Gaza’s decrepit sewage plants means that untreated human waste is now pouring into the sea. Officials feel they have no other choice: if they did not let the sewage into the ocean, it would soon flood the city. However, many locals depend on the coast for fishing, and families flock there to cool down and swim in the long, hot days without electricity.
(Pic): Sewage pumped into the Mediterranean sea near fishing areas in Gaza. Approximately 110 million liters (110,000 cubic meters) of raw and partially treated sewage are poured daily into the Sea, contaminating 73% of Gaza’s 42 km (26 miles) long coast (Photo by OCHA, Oct 2017) pic.twitter.com/xFHlW8afTY— Mohammed S. Samhouri (@msamhouri) November 12, 2017
There has been no immediate change to their predicament, and it remains to be seen whether the reconciliation can bring basic ameneties back to the Gaza strip.