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Palestinians face shortage of car tyres
November 02, 2018
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GAZA CITY: Palestinians in Gaza have coped with shortages of just about everything in more than a decade of border closures — from chocolate to medicines to fuel and building supplies.

Now, six months of protests against an Israeli-Egyptian blockade have added an unexpected item to that list: car tyres.

Tyres are a favoured item by demonstrators during the weekly protests — they are set on fire, then tossed towards Israeli troops across the border.

In response, Israel has halted tyre imports into the strip, sending prices skyrocketing and forcing Gaza motorists to find creative solutions to keep their vehicles on the road.

Taxi driver Khaled Hamad has no spare tyre in his trunk. His tyres are worn down, but he could only afford to change two, replacing them with secondhand ones that aren’t even the standard size recommended by the manufacturer.

“Even when they were cheaper, upgrading my tyres was expensive,” Hamad said as he kicked a bald front tyre that still needs to be changed. “I make 40 shekels ($11) a day these days. Business is down.”

Protesters at the border marches burn old tyres, using the thick black smoke to obscure the vision of Israeli snipers.

The tyre ban has had no effect on the protesters, who rely on a seemingly endless supply of old ones that are discarded in garages, fields and roadsides across the territory.

Rushdi Al Khour, head of the association of Gaza spare parts merchants, which co-ordinates imports from Israel, said the tyre shortage has caused severe losses for businessmen.

He said the cost of a pair of tyres has jumped from $120 to $300 since the ban went into effect, a sizable sum in the economically struggling strip.

Fifteen distributors have lost up to $2 million so far, both in tyres they bought from Israeli companies and in storage fees for shipments stuck at Israeli ports, according to Khour.

“This is a wrong decision by the Israeli side,” he said of the ban. “Lift the siege and the protests will stop.”

The Hamas-led protests have been fueled by widespread despair over the difficult conditions created by the blockade. Unemployment is now over 50 per cent, and Gazans get just a few hours of electricity a day.

Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade on Gaza after Hamas took control of the territory in 2007. Israel says the blockade, which restricts the movement of people and goods in and out of Gaza, is necessary to isolate Hamas.

Associated Press
 

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