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Israeli siege worsens economic situation in Gaza
Israeli siege worsens economic situation in Gaza
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Gaza, Agencies - After the closure of the Rafah Crossing and the destruction of the tunnels between Gaza and Egypt, the Israeli siege has caused great economic losses that are severely affecting life in the Gaza Strip.

Economists estimate losses to the private sector to be around $100 million. Furthermore, most development and construction projects run by the government and municipalities have now been stopped because of the shortages of construction materials and fuel.

Previously, the head of the Popular Committee against the Gaza Siege, Jamal Al-Khodary, said that new measures announced by Israel to ease the siege have not had much effect on the ground.

"The amount of construction materials allowed by Israel is not even enough for more than 25 per cent of our construction projects, and most of [the materials] go for internationally run projects," Al-Khodari said.

While Israel announced that it will allow 70 truckloads of construction materials every working day, Palestinian coordinator of supplies into Gaza Raed Fattouh said: "Gaza is in need of up to 400 trucks of gravel, 200 trucks of cement and 100 trucks of steel every day."

A number of international sponsors have suspended implementing their construction and development projects in Gaza because of the shortage of construction materials.

The suspension of such projects has not only stopped the work of hundreds of factories in Gaza, but also increased the unemployment rate, which has now reached 50 per cent.

Israel's siege against the Gaza Strip started in 2006 after Islamist party Hamas won the democratically held elections in Palestine. After the siege was tightened in mid-2007, Gaza residents started digging tunnels with Egypt to smuggle their essential needs.

On 3 July of this year, the Egyptian Defence Minister carried out a military coup against the freely elected President Mohammed Morsi. Since then, Egyptian authorities have carried out a fierce campaign on the tunnels to Gaza and closed the Rafah Crossing, blocking more than 1.8 million Palestinians from leaving or entering Gaza, including patients and students.