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No fashionable garments in Gaza due to two-year Israeli blockade
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21:44, June 02, 2009

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Mohamed Dawood, a 27-year-old Gaza resident who is planning his wedding ceremony to take place on July 16, was not able to find the proper fashionable clothes that any man can find in any clothing store in any country in the world.

Dawood says that he and his fiancee Hala almost go every afternoon to the market in Gaza City for shopping to prepare for their wedlock, "and we can't find not only the proper fashionable garments for me and for Hala, but also no for other staff like furniture or kitchenware."

"The problem is that the merchandises we found in Gaza stores are either old-fashion, or the quality is not good. Above all the prices are unbearable and too expensive," said Dawood, who works as a teacher at one of Gaza elementary schools.

Hundreds of clothing and shoe stores are on both sides of the Gaza City's main street Omer al-Mukhtar, some of them have their stores full of clothes and garments, but most of them were smuggled from Egypt to Gaza through underground tunnels the Palestinians dug under Gaza-Egypt's borders.

The number of smuggling tunnels were dug under the borders had increased in the last two years since Israel had imposed a tight blockade on the Gaza Strip after Islamic Hamas movement took control of the enclave following fierce armed clashes with President Mahmoud Abbas security forces.

Many clothing stores are empty, as their owners refused to buy smuggled clothes or shoes coming from Egypt, saying they are waiting for Israel to reopen Gaza border crossing points and allow new fashionable and good quality products of clothes, shoes and other goods.

Clothing stores in Gaza city sell clothes and garments for children, women, male and female teens and also for men. The stores owners complain that the situation is so difficult and it hasn't become as it was before.

Ahmed al-Shurafa, who owns a clothing store for men in Gaza city's downtown, said he used to buy and ship goods directly from Israeli clothing companies and warehouses to his store in Gaza City, adding all the products he used to bring were fashionable, good quality and not expensive.

"I was compelled to fill my store with products that are brought from Egypt through the tunnels, though I pay lots of moneyto get some clothes for my store. I know it is illegal, but I have no other choice, I have a family and have financial commitments," said al-Shurafa.

Clothing storekeepers as well as their customers complain of the high prices of clothing and shoes and said that most of the goods brought to Gaza are so expensive and its quality is not good enough.

"We are really suffering, now it is the beginning of the summer in Gaza and it is a good season. I believe that most of Gaza storekeepers, merchants and businessmen having been loosing lots of profits since the Israeli blockade was imposed on the Gaza Strip," said al-Shurafa.

The Palestinian Committee to Challenge the Israeli Siege said in an official statistic figures that there are 1,474 containers full of all kinds of products are held at Israeli seaports for two years, adding that "due to the siege, the containers are still at the seaports and are not allowed into Gaza."

Amjad Mushtaha, an importer of children's toys in Gaza, said that before Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip and a tight blockade was imposed on the Gaza Strip, he ordered six containers of toys, adding that "when the containers were shipped from China to Ashdod seaport in Israel, the blockade was imposed."

"Everyday I have to pay fees to the seaport warehouses for keeping my toys' containers stored there. Since the blockade was tightened two years ago, I already paid 250,000 U.S. dollars," said Mushtaha.

Husam Noor al-Dein, a 45-year-old owner of several trucks used for carrying goods come from Israel into Gaza through Gaza crossings said that over the past two years Israel has been only allowing humanitarian aids, some kinds of food products, like sugar, rice, cooking oil, frozen meat, diary products and fuels.

"Before the blockade was imposed on Gaza two years ago, my trucks used to bring to Gaza all kinds of products, mainly garments, shoes and kitchenware," Noor al-Dein said. "Since then, we only work on carrying food products and aids."

He expressed hope that rival Fatah and Islamic Hamas movement would reach a reconciliation agreement in order to reunite Gaza with the West Bank, and reach an agreement with Israel on reopening all the sealed of border crossings.

Source: Xinhua

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