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      Gaza Markets Full During Ramadan

      Wafa News Agency reports prosperity in Gaza's markets despite ongoing claims of a siege on the Strip. Upper classes buy, but ignore the rest.
      By Elad Benari
      First Publish: 8/16/2010, 12:44 AM / Last Update: 8/16/2010, 12:41 AM

      Wafa News Agency

      Wafa News Agency reported that since the beginning of the month of Ramadan (which began last Wednesday), the markets in Gaza are full of goods. Wafa also published a photo of the Gaza market, showing it laden with fruit and candy of all kinds. This report comes despite the ongoing claims by the ruling Hamas government that there is a siege on Gaza.

      Last Monday, the Hamas government in Gaza announced the arrival of a European medical convoy of ships. The convoy brought 45 ambulances and over 50 other vehicles loaded with medical goods and equipment worth an estimated one million euros.

      Other recent or soon-to-arrive aid shipments for Gaza include a Malaysian delegation bringing clothing and medical equipment, an Algerian ship with 85 containers of food and medical equipment and a Syrian convoy with five trucks and 116 tons of food.

      Much of the goods brought on the ship convoys to date were out of date medicines and equipment. INN has documented  the enormous amounts of goods brought in to Gaza each week by truck convoys entering from Israel through authorized crossings.

      Luxury goods often arrive through smuggling tunnels from Egypt and their workers have protested that the convoys ruin their livelihood.

      Several weeks ago, Egyptian journalist Ashraf Abu al-Houl reported his surprise to discover a “prosperous” Gaza in which prices are low and luxury businesses  are booming.

      "A sense of absolute prosperity prevails, as manifested by the grand resorts along and near Gaza's coast. Further, the site of the merchandise and luxuries filling the Gaza shops amazed me,” he reported, and added that Gaza's markets are filled with a “plethora of goods.”

      Earlier in July, a luxury mall in Gaza City held its grand opening, selling Israeli men's clothing, and items from Turkey, France, and the United States. The mall has a variety of stores which sell cosmetics, clothing, office supplies, toys, shoes, appliances and more. The mall boasts air conditioning and a delivery service.

      Israel's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) confirmed the abundance of goods in Gaza’s markets as well as their low prices but noted there are few buyers. Due to an unequal distribution of wealth among Gaza residents themselves, the upper class frequents restaurants and malls, but ignores the existence of the unemployed who cannot afford to buy the goods.

      The coordinator's office added that 200-300 truckloads of goods entered Gaza last week via the Karni and Kerem Shalom crossings. They consisted mainly of food, sheep, cattle and electronic goods.