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Little economical changes in Gaza after six weeks of truce with Israel
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09:40, July 29, 2008

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Palestinian militant groups led by the Islamic Hamas movement are still observing a truce with Israel in the Gaza Strip, six weeks after the ceasefire went into force.

Yet, little essential economic changes have come about Palestinians believe mainly due to Israel's non-commitment to reopening Gaza crossings and lifting the siege on Gaza, frustrating Gaza businessmen counting on the truce to revive movement of trade.

Osama Kuhail, head of the contractors union in Gaza, said the truce has not yielded the sought results due to Israel's ongoing and baseless breaches of the truce.

Israel should have provided the Gaza Strip with 200 tons of construction cement on a daily basis, "but it supplies Gaza with cement for one or two days and then it stops providing us for two or three days," Kuhail said.

He said "though the amount is modest, we have to receive it because we are in a dire need of cement to continue the construction of many urgent and necessary projects. This also applies for other construction materials."

Other vital materials and goods, like stationery, clothes and shoes, are not, or rarely, allowed into the impoverished strip after the implementation of the truce, according to Kuhail.

He believed that reasons behind the predicament is Israel's disregard of the truce, stressing the necessity that the Palestinian factions should not break the truce in order to expose Israel's lies to the whole world.

Kuhail called on Palestinians to take advantage of the Egypt-brokered truce to start national dialogue between rival Hamas and Fatah in a bid to defy the Jewish state, which capitalizes on the Palestinian disunity to tighten its siege on the Gaza Strip.

There can never be any hope to revive economy as long as the Palestinians are disunited, he said, stressing that only unity can guarantee the preservation of truce and economic prosperity in the Palestinian territories.

Director of Gaza branch of Snokrot Company, Naji al-Batta, agreed with Kuhail on this point, saying what Gaza businessmen really need is Palestinian reconciliation which would help improve the economic prosperity.

Al-Batta complained that the situation in Gaza after the truce virtually worsened, saying his company has to wait for over 10 days to receive several types of materials which were in frequent flow into Gaza before the truce.

Al-Batta said the intermediary -- Egypt -- has not piled enough pressure on Israel to facilitate the reopening process of the crossings.

If Egypt did not impose pressure on Israel, the Jewish nation would not respect the ceasefire and would make things more complicated on the ground, he said.

The six-month truce took effect on June 19 in Gaza, calling on Palestinian militant groups to stop launching rockets into southern Israel. Meanwhile, Israel has to stop military offensive into Gaza and ease the blockade it imposed on the Gaza Strip when Hamas took over the territory by force over a year ago.

According to chief of crossings committee in the Palestinian Businessmen Society, Ali al-Hayek, there is no obvious increase in the number of truckloads that entered the overcrowded strip through Sufa crossing in the six weeks of truce.

Sufa crossing is now the only passage in operation, he said, noting that material inflow through this crossing can not meet the needs of the Gaza Strip, home to some home to nearly 1.5 million residents heavily dependent on aid inflow of almost everything.

Al-Hayek said the Palestinians were so optimistic that things would change after the truce, but Israel nearly destroyed their hopes as it has not stuck to its commitments to the ceasefire.

He, however, expressed expectations that Israel would in the future abide by the truce and open all Gaza crossings, wishing the ceasefire would continue and that a Palestinian unity government be formed soon.


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