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Life harder in Gaza after Egypt closes tunnels

English.news.cn   2013-03-05 22:36:53            

by Saud Abu Ramadan

GAZA, March 5 (Xinhua) -- Screaming at workers in a smuggling tunnel under the borders between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, Abu Jamal, an owner of the tunnel, ordered the workers to speed up transferring bags of gravels and construction raw-materials from Egypt via his tunnel.

Abu Jamal is a fake name of the 42-year-old illegal businessman, who declined to give his real name for security reasons. He said he asked his workers to move the materials before the Egyptians close it the tunnel.

Jamal revealed that the Egyptian authorities' campaign to close down all tunnels is still "ongoing."

"Bringing goods, fuels and construction raw-materials was very easy three years ago, but now with this ongoing campaign, the number of tunnels decreases and the process of bringing staff became so difficult," he said.

The owners of the tunnels in Rafah town in southern Gaza Strip stated that the Egyptian security forces are filling the tunnels with waste and sewage waters, along with blocking the vehicles and trucks loaded with goods from heading to Gaza through the border tunnels.

The Palestinians dug hundreds of tunnels underneath the borderline between southern Gaza Strip and Egypt to get their basic needs of food, fuels and medicine and to break a tight Israeli blockade, which has been imposed on the coastal enclave after Islamic Hamas movement had violently seized control of Gaza in 2007.

However, the number of tunnels, since then, had declined from 1, 200 tunnels to 260, after Israel eased the blockade in 2010 and Egypt destroyed dozens of these tunnels.

"Using tunnels in defying the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip was the best and only option for the Palestinians in order to get their basic needs of food and fuel," Ahmed Yousef, an aide to Hamas government Prime Minister Ismail Henya said in a statement.

"Closing the tunnels without any guarantees is unacceptable. If Egypt wants to close down all border tunnels, Egypt and Israel must immediately end the unfair siege that is still imposed on the Gaza Strip since 2006," said Yousef.

Meanwhile, hopes of closing down all smuggling tunnels and opening the legal Israeli-controlled crossings has increased after an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire agreement was reached between Israel and Hamas in last November.

"I believe that the situation now, mainly the movement on Kerem Shalom crossing controlled by Israeli, is much better after reaching the ceasefire agreement," said Yousef.

"The allowance of many kinds of goods, products and raw materials is also much better now," he added.

However, Raed Fattouh, a Palestinian communication officer at Kerem Shalom crossing point in southern Gaza Strip said "if we want to compare the situation before and after the November ceasefire agreement, I can say that there has been no substantial change on the ground."

"Israel increased the number of products allowed into Gaza through the crossing, but it still prohibits many other kinds of products, mainly for construction, industry and agriculture," he said.

Meanwhile, the fishermen in Gaza said the area provided for fishing increased to six miles after the ceasefire agreement with Israel, but Israel's security restrictions on them never changed.

"It is true that fishing area had increased to six miles instead of three miles, but the Israeli naval forces still chase our fishing boats, arrest fishermen and take them for interrogation and force us to throw our fish back into the sea," said Ahmed Fayyad, a fisherman from Gaza.

Editor: yan
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