Israel Closes Gaza Crossings to Tighten Siege/1/




Article Date:

16:24 2011/01/14
Article ID: 0036
“Kerem Shalom is a bottleneck through which we are forced to bring assistance to over one million people,” UNRWA spokesman in Jerusalem Chris Gunness told Ma”an. “The 2005 crossings agreement must be implemented,” he continued, “and a consistent and predictable schedule for the import and export of goods from Karni established.” Without adequate crossings protocol, Gunness said it would be impossible to supply the necessary goods for a full Gaza recovery. “We must end the collective punishment of the people of Gaza,” he said. Interviewed for this report, businessmen, economists and representatives of the private sector said the closure of Karni would only tighten the siege, further restrict the goods coming into Gaza, and almost certainly prevent a real export market from developing. Business owners told Ma”an that the crossing infrastructure at Kerem Shalom was already insufficient to bring in needed goods. The crossing, initially built to allow in humanitarian goods, would have to support all of the imports for 1.5 million Gaza residents. In December, Israeli officials said that the new year would bring a further loosening of the blockade, and some products would be permitted for export, including produce, furniture and some other goods. No change in export permissions has come though, with the sole goods leaving the Strip coming from a Dutch government program to support Gaza farmers. For the past two years the program has seen strawberries and carnations exported to Europe from about a dozen farms. Coordinator of the Crossing Committee in Gaza told Ma”an that the infrastructure at Kerem Shalom was so insufficient that congestion at the terminal would spill over into the nearby city of Rafah, and disrupt traffic on the main Salah Ad-Din highway running from south to north. “The road is not of a sufficient quality to see that much traffic on it,” he said. In June, a world outcry demanding a lifting of the siege followed the killing of nine activists on board a Turkish ship bound for Gaza, forced Israel to loosen its siege on Gaza, and saw almost immediately an increase in the variety of goods permitted to enter the area. The decision to allow in ketchup and shoe laces – items previously barred from entry – was met with criticism, and calls for the entry of industrial products and supplies so that factories could re-open and the job market be expanded. The Turkish ship bound for Gaza were carrying supplies in an effort to break the blockade.(END) MD

QNA | News | Israel Closes Gaza Crossings to Tighten Siege/1/.