Egypt cracks down on smuggling routes

Decline in tunnel trade creating Gaza fuel and food shortages

GMT 12:02 2012 Saturday ,25 February

Arab Today, arab today Decline in tunnel trade creating Gaza fuel and food shortages

Tunnels used to transfer goods
Gaza – Mohammad Habib

Tunnels used to transfer goods Gaza – Mohammad Habib The Gaza Strip has reportedly been witnessing a serious lack of several commodities recently, goods usually transferred to Gaza through the Rafah tunnels on the Egyptian border, as a result of continuous Israeli raids on the tunnels in addition to anti-smuggling campaigns launched by Egyptian authorities.
Abu Mohammed, a guard in one of the fuel tunnels, stated that the price of commodities has increased on the Egyptian side, and the restrictive policies exercised by Egyptian authorities resulted in the decline of goods transferred to Gaza through tunnels.
“Almost a month and a half has passed without any fuel being transferred through the tunnel,” Abu Mohammed said, considering the promises of Egyptian traders in this regard as “unrealistic”.
Abu Ibrahim, the owner of a tunnel which is often used to transfer fuel, said the fuel crisis in Gaza was due to two reasons. The first was the raised prices of fuels in the black market in North Sinai.
“The other reason is the Egyptian crackdown on the tunnels, and their confiscation of a large number of trucks carrying commodities and fuel,” he added, calling on authorities to provide an official mechanism to introduce fuel to Gaza Strip in light of the growing crisis.
According to Omar, who works on a fuel pump inside a tunnel, fuel started flowing through the tunnel in small quantities following a two-month break.
“Fuel prices have become reasonable, compared to previous phases,” he added.
Gazan citizen Abu Raad said there was difficulty in introducing some consumer goods to the Strip due to restrictions imposed by security forces over the tunnels.
“Tunnels used to transfer sugar, rice, flour, oil, milk, canned goods, potato chips, biscuits, clothes, and shoes – on a daily basis. Today, only a few of these things are allowed in,” Abu Raad said.
Israeli authorities imposed a siege on the Gaza Strip following the victory of Hamas in the Legislative Elections in 2006. The siege included the prevention of fuels entering the Strip, in addition to a number of other commodities, including vinegar, biscuits, poultry, and meat. Fishing and border-crossings between Gaza and Israel were also banned.  

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