|Significant increase in imports permitted from Israel |
While the volume of goods transferred via the illegal smuggling tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border remained extremely limited, the amount of imports from Israel increased significantly.
Local sources in Gaza indicated that the volume of goods transported via the tunnels this week remained at approximately 30-40 truckloads of goods per day, the same as in the previous week. These amounts constitute less than 20 per cent of the volume of goods that entered before June 2013 (up to 200 truckloads).
The limited scope of tunnel activity continued to be reflected in shortages of goods, including fuel and construction materials. This week, between 400,000 and 500,000 liters of fuel (mostly diesel) reportedly entered Gaza via tunnels every day, including for the Gaza Power Plant (GPP) and other public facilities and services; this compares to approximately one million liters per day prior to June 2013. The GPP authority reported a 32 per cent increase in the amount of fuel received this week compared to the previous week (330,000 vs 250,000 liters per day). The GPP continued operating at half of its full capacity, triggering long electricity blackouts of up to 12 hours per day, and 16 hours per day in some areas, forcing people to relay on unsafe methods to light their houses.
Fuel shortfalls have also continued to disrupt the provision of basic services, including water, sanitation, health and transportation. Local petrol stations sell, almost exclusively, fuel imported from Israel at double the price of the subsidized fuel purchased from Egypt and smuggled into Gaza via illegal tunnels.
Construction materials have continued to enter via tunnels in limited amounts; the Palestinian Federation of Industries estimated that approximately 150 tonnes of building materials (mainly cement) entered Gaza per day this week, compared to a daily average of more than 7,500 tonnes in June 2013.
The volume of goods that entered Gaza this week via the Kerem Shalom crossing with Israel saw a 55 per cent increase compared to the weekly average since the beginning of the year (1,711 vs 1,103
truckloads). This is primarily due to the Israeli decision from 17 September to allow the entry of limited amounts of construction materials for use by the private sector. Approximately 4,600 tonnes of cement, 5,280 tonnes of gravel, and 2,560 tonnes of steel bars were allowed into Gaza via Kerem Shalom this week. The Ministry of National Economy in the Gaza Strip estimates that these amounts cover less than 15 per cent of current demand.
Whilst the increase in imports via Israel is significant, it has not fully compensated for the sharp reduction in the volume of construction materials entering illegally via the tunnels. As a result, prices remain about 20 per cent higher than June 2013 prices.