THE newspaper Filastin has posted a feature on its website titled ‘Through Their Worst Phase of the Israeli Siege on Gaza’ exposing the sufferings that are being imposed on Gazans by the Israeli blockade.
It reads: ‘Mahmud al-Luh tossed a few shekels into the hand of a man selling bread in a bakery in Gaza that is still open and received in return a bag of bread for his little children.
‘Al-Luh, aged 37, like thousands of Palestinians, has grown used to this kind of crowdedness at Gaza bakeries, which are very close to having to shut their doors to customers as a result of the shortage in flour and fuels in this coastal strip.
‘For a week, the Palestinians have been facing immense difficulties in purchasing bread. For a year and a half, they have been living under siege in Gaza, which has been controlled by Hamas, which won a parliamentary majority in June 2007.
‘The Palestinian Association of Bakery Owners [PABO] in Gaza has announced that “in two days at the most, all bakeries will stop working completely if the Israeli siege continues.”
‘The PABO noted that there are 47 bakeries in Gaza, of which 27 have closed their doors while the rest are working only partially as a result of the power stoppage, as well as the shortages in fuel, cooking gas, and flour.
‘While making his way out through dozens of Palestinians who had rushed to a bakery on Al-Jala Street in downtown Gaza, Al-Luh said: “Today, we have bread but what will I feed my children tomorrow?”
‘He added: “We will continue to be patient and steadfast and the siege and aggression will not break us. This is the destiny of the Palestinian people, who must be steadfast on their land.”
‘Institutions that provide services in Gaza have announced that they are very close to suspending their services due to the continued closure by the occupation authorities and the prohibition on the transfer of foodstuffs and fuels.
‘Israel backtracked on a previous decision to open the Karm Abu-Salim [Kerem Shalom] Crossing in the southern part of the Gaza Strip yesterday, on the pretext that a number of homemade rockets have fallen on Israeli towns and positions adjacent to the Gaza Strip.
‘The day before yesterday, Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Baraq refused to respond positively to the calls made by UN Director General Ban Ki-moon on the need to supply the Gaza Strip with emergency supplies and fuels, as well as the need to stop the policy of isolating the Gaza Strip and of closing the crossings.
‘The largest company for flour production in Gaza has announced its complete suspension of production.
‘Ihsan al-Farra, the head of the laboratory and quality control in the Flour Company, said: “The Gaza Strip is exposed to a real food crisis.
‘ . . .“The bakeries will stop production in a few days as a result of the scarcity of flour on the markets.”
‘In an interview with Filastin, Al-Farra added that “the Flour Company has been forced to completely stop production as a result of the scarcity of flour.
‘ “The Flour Company used to produce 230 tons of flour every day, which covered 40 per cent of the needs of the 1.5 million residents of the Gaza Strip.”
‘He explained that the Flour Company’s storehouses, which have the capacity to store around 20,000 tons of flour, are now empty as a result of the suspension of flour supplies to the Gaza Strip following the closure of the crossings.
‘Al-Farra noted that the Flour Company has reduced its working hours in the past week from 24 hours to 12 hours per day due to the shortage of flour.
‘The Flour Company has never stopped production since it was established after the PNA arrived in the Palestinian territories after the Oslo Agreement in 1993.
‘In a press conference last Thursday the Electricity Distribution Company in Gaza announced that its services will be continuously reduced as a result of the ongoing ban on transferring the industrial fuel needed to operate the only electricity power station. Around 70 per cent of the 1.5 million residents of the Gaza Strip have been living in pitch darkness for a week.
‘In a statement issued yesterday, Jamal al-Khudari, Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) member and head of the Anti-Siege Popular Committee, denounced the Israeli authorities’ ongoing closure of the crossings.
‘He also warned against the eruption of a humanitarian catastrophe as a result of the shortage in foodstuffs and fuel in the Gaza Strip.
‘On November 4th, the Hebrew state closed the Gaza Strip crossings following an incursion by an Israeli force in the middle part of the Gaza Strip on the pretext of having to demolish a tunnel that was dug by the Palestinian resistance in order to capture Israeli soldiers.
‘This incursion led to the renewal of reciprocal bombardments between the Palestinian factions and Israel, despite the unwritten ceasefire agreement that expires on 18 December.
‘Some 17 resistance men have been martyred in the past two weeks as a result of Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip.’
Yesterday, Al Khudari stressed that the Israeli economic blockade would spark a ‘revolt’ in Gaza
He warned that if the Israeli blockade continues, Gazans may flood towards crossing points into Egypt and Israel.
‘A flood towards the crossing points is imminent,’ Al-Khudari declared at a news conference in Gaza City.
‘The economic situation has deteriorated to an unbearable degree,’ he insisted.
‘The Gaza Strip is existing under unprecedented and dire economic conditions; all aspects of life are paralysed.’
140,000 workers in the Gaza Strip are now unemployed due to the ‘crippling siege’ while nearly 4,000 factories and workshops have shut their doors, the PLC member claimed.
Al-Khudari called on the secretary-general of the Arab League to visit the Gaza Strip and see firsthand the suffering of its population.
He also called on Arab countries’ foreign ministers to prioritise the Gaza crisis in their upcoming meeting.