Israel tightens Gaza blockade: Commerce chamber
Gaza Strip has been reeling under a decade-long Israeli blockade
By Ola Atallah
GAZA CITY, Palestine
The Gaza Strip’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry has accused Israel of tightening the decade-long siege on the Palestinian territory.
"Israel speaks about granting many facilities to the Gaza Strip,” Maher al-Tabaa, a spokesman for the chamber, said in a statement released on Wednesday.
“Unfortunately, all these allegations are groundless,” he said.
The spokesman cited that Israeli authorities had withdrawn permits for more than 1,500 merchants and businessmen from the Gaza Strip since the beginning of this year.
“Israeli authorities bar the entry of numerous raw materials needed for the industry sector” in Gaza, he said.
“[Israel] has also banned 150 businesses from foreign transactions,” al-Tabaa said, going on to accuse the self-proclaimed Jewish state of controlling the entry of construction materials into the blockaded seaside strip.
Without elaborating, the Palestinian spokesman said that Israel has also withdrawn permits granted for staffers of international organizations and diplomatic missions operating in the Gaza Strip.
Blockaded by Israel -- by air, land and sea --- since 2007, the Gaza Strip has seven border crossings linking it to the outside world. Six of these are controlled by Israel, while the seventh -- the Rafah crossing -- is controlled by Egypt, which keeps it tightly sealed for the most part.
Israel sealed four of its commercial crossings with Gaza in June 2007 after Hamas wrested control of the strip from the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority.
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