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Feature: Gazans lament hard living as Egypt shuts artery tunnels


10:07, July 08, 2013

GAZA, July 7 (Xinhua) -- Impatient Mohamed Salman, the 38-year- old taxi driver from Gaza, sounded upset when he lit his fourth cigarette and puffed its foam out of his mouth after wasting almost two hours outside a fuel station in the city waiting for his turn to fill in his taxi with diesel.

"This is really ridiculous, what a difficult life in Gaza when there is no fuels for so many days and no electricity for eight hours each day for many years," said Salman, as he moved his car a step forward, which stood in a long queue of vehicles outside Fares Station in western Gaza city.

Over the past eight days, the Gaza Strip, ruled by Islamic Hamas movement, has been passing through a critical fuel crisis due to the ongoing political and security developments in Egypt, where millions of Egyptians backed by the Egyptian army, ousted Islamic President Mohamed Morsi on Wednesday.

Public traffics in the streets of major cities and towns in the Gaza Strip were very slow, and officials in the Gaza ministry of health warned that most of the ambulances and aid vehicles had stopped due to the severe shortage of fuels brought from Egypt.

"I decided to go to work today on foot after a long waiting because I could find a taxi that takes me there," said Adnan Dahman, a 29-year-old employee who runs a clothing store in Gaza city's downtown. Hundreds of people were seen walking on foot in Gaza city's main streets going back home after work.

Palestinian officials warned of a critical humanitarian crisis that would have a serious negative impact on the people in the Gaza Strip if the Egyptian authorities keep Rafah border crossing closed down, destroy the tunnels and prevents the fuels vehicles from approaching the borderline area.

Mahmoud al-Khazendar, the chairman of the Union for Gas Stations Owners told Xinhua that "Once the shortage of fuel in Gaza goes on, I believe that this would not only affect the daily transportation of vehicles, but there will be a health and environmental crisis."

He suggested that the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) and Hamas government in Gaza should cooperate and find a fair solution to the crisis, adding "every time there are political or security unrest in Egypt, a new humanitarian crisis in Gaza breaks out."

However, Mohamed al-Abadella, spokesman of the fuel companies in Gaza told Xinhua that few amounts of fuels were pumped on Sunday morning, adding "these amounts won't be enough for resolving the crisis." He expressed hope that Egypt would allow more enough amounts of fuels in Gaza soon.

In June 2007, Israel imposed a tight blockade on the Gaza Strip right after Hamas violent takeover of the coastal enclave, but still doesn't allow enough amounts of fuels through commercial crossings it controls and bans other kinds of raw-materials needed for construction, agriculture and industry.

To defy the Israeli blockade and get these materials, the Palestinians dug hundreds of tunnels underneath the borderline area between Gaza Strip and Egypt. The fuels that Gazans get from Egypt through these tunnels are half price of the fuels that are bought from Israel.

On Sunday, Egypt kept its borders with the Gaza Strip closed for the third day in a row, preventing Palestinians from leaving or returning to the coastal enclave via its main crossing point at Rafah city. The Hamas-run government of Gaza said that Egypt closed the crossing point indefinitely.

"We understand the sensitive situation in Egypt, especially in Sinai, but we hope that the crossing point is exempted from this circle because the closure causes several crisis for the travelers, " said Ihab Al-Ghussein, spokesperson for Hamas' government in a press statement.

Many Palestinians believe that ending the internal division between Hamas movement, which rules the Gaza Strip and Fatah Party of President Mahmoud Abbas and making reconciliation, would help to end the ongoing crisis and lifting more than six years of Israeli blockade.

Mekhemer Abu Se'da, the political science professor at al-Azhar University in Gaza said "the ongoing changes in Egypt may keep the crisis in Gaza looming for a long time," adding "the only solution is to end the current division, make reconciliation and lift the Israeli siege imposed on Gaza."

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Email|Print|Comments(Editor:LiangJun、Yao Chun)

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