Israeli closure of Gaza crossing leads to wheat, fodder shortage: officials

22:12, December 02, 2010      

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Palestinian officials warned on Thursday of "a severe humanitarian crisis" due to a shortage of wheat and fodder in the Gaza Strip following an Israeli decision to reduce working days at one of the commercial crossing points on the borders between the coastal enclave and Israel.

Israel earlier announced that it has decided to minimize the working time to two days per week at Karni commercial crossing point, used for allowing wheat and fodder into the enclave.

The Palestinian officials and importers of wheat and fodder noted that such an Israeli decision "would lead to a real crisis and a severe shortage of wheat and fodder," adding that "if the problem is not resolved soon, the crisis will be mounting and dangerous."

Tayesser al-Yaziji, Secretary General of the Bakeries Union in Gaza told Xinhua that the bakeries in the Gaza Strip have been significantly suffering from flour shortage, adding that the Gaza Strip "is in need for 500 tons of wheat everyday."

"The Israeli authorities does not allow 500 tons of wheat on daily bases, the amount is much less than that, which means that wheat storage in the Gaza Strip is drying up," said al-Yaziji, adding that "the crisis at the bakeries is gradually mounting, and it is expected to increase within the coming days."

Owners of bakeries in the Gaza Strip have been always demanding an increase of the wheat and flour supply allowed in the Gaza Strip, mainly increasing the working days at Karni crossing. However, they were surprised that instead of increasing the days, Israel reduces it.

The crisis has been looming recently at most of Gaza Strip bakeries due to the shortage of grains in the market. Many bakeries have to reduce working hours and Gaza people crowded into bakeries to buy more breads to store it.

Sabri Abu Ghali, a wheat importer in Gaza told Xinhua that Israel's decision had led to a severe retreat in the amounts of wheat allowed in the Gaza Strip, saying that "the ongoing shortage will certainly lead to a real crisis."

Meanwhile, Zakareya al-Kafarna, an official in the Hamas-run ministry of agriculture in the Gaza Strip has warned of "a severe danger that threats the livestock sector in the Gaza Strip due to the shortage of fodders and grains," adding "that animals and chicken were starving if the crisis goes on."

"The Gaza Strip in a normal situation is in need for 16,000 tons of fodder and grains per month, where 4 tons are consumed every week," said al-Kafarna, "Israeli authorities are only allowing 2 tons per week, it would certainly lead to a severe humanitarian crisis."

Nasser al-Saraj, Deputy Minister of Economy in the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) told Xinhua that the PNA had applied to the International Quartet and other international bodies "to urgently interfere and urge Israel to put an end to the mounting crisis of the shortage of grains and fodder."

"We have been holding a series intensive contacts to clarify the Palestinians' position which demands to increase the number of working days at Karni crossing and increase the import of wheat, grains and fodders to the Gaza Strip," said al-Saraj.

He noted that the Palestinian side hasn't received any response from the Israeli authorities, and that Israel insists to minimize the working days at Karni crossing under security pretexts.

Earlier this week, around 21 international organizations had called for an urgent international move "to end the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip immediately." They said in a report that the Israeli relaxation of the illegal blockade "has not changed the fate of the Gaza population." Israel has been imposing a tight blockade on the Gaza Strip right after Islamic Hamas movement seized control of it by force in June 2007.

Source: Xinhua


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