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NGO: Gaza commercial crossing closed 150 days in 2013
A cargo truck shipped to Gaza via Karm Abu Salem crossing with Israel (Safa Press)
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Gaza, ALRAY - An economic report said the Israeli authorities closed Karm Abu Salem crossing, the only commercial crossing with the Gaza Strip, on 150 days over 2013, which forms 41% of the total working days.

The report is issued Saturday by Chamber of Commerce, Trade, Industry and Agriculture in Gaza, a local organization of businesses and companies.

It said the repeated closure of the Karm Abu Salem crossing violates the Egypt-mediated cease-fire agreement signed in November 2012 between the Palestinians and Israel, which followed an eight-day Israeli offensive in Gaza.

The agreement included understandings regarding the seven-year blockade of Gaza and the movement of goods through Karm Abu Salem crossing from and into the coastal enclave.

Normally Israel keeps the crossing operational for 22 days monthly, closing it on Fridays and Saturdays, while also shut it down on Jewish holidays for ‘security concerns’, the report said.

In 2013, the number of cargo trucks entered into Gaza reached 55.833, with a shortage of 1578 compared to 2012, according to the report. 

Israel only allowed an export of 187 cargo trucks from the Gaza Strip to European markets, compared to 234 trucks in 2012, mostly loaded with agricultural products.

On a related vein, the report handled the impacts of the Egyptian military clampdown on smuggling tunnels with Gaza Strip since early July 2013.

On this regard, the report said that tunnel closure caused a loss of more than half a billion dollars over the past six months, as a direct result of the full stoppage of some economic activities and decline in production of others, which contributed to a 60% decrease in GDP during that period.

The construction sector is one of the most affected by the closure of tunnels, as it employs a significant part of Gaza labor, and depends on the availability of building materials, which the Israeli occupation used to transfer only to the projects funded by the UN in Gaza, the report explained.

During the second quarter of 2013, it contributed up to 27% to GDP, equivalent to 135 million dollars, it added. 

The report said that rate of unemployment in the Gaza Strip exceeded 39% by the end of 2013, increasing to the number of the unemployed to some 140.000 people .

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