Gaza Could Face Economic Meltdown, U.N. Warns

Isabel Kershner, New York Times, August 9, 2007

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/09/world/middleeast/09cnd-mideast.html

The United Nations issued a severe warning today that Gaza could face an economic meltdown with “disastrous consequences” unless the main border crossings into the territory are reopened.

The warning came as Hamas, the more radical of the two main Palestinian factions, appeared to tighten its grip over the strip, where it seized control violently in June. A senior doctor loyal to the rival Fatah faction was fired from his position at Gaza ‘s main hospital and arrested shortly afterward.

Filippo Grandi, the deputy head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the body responsible for Palestinian refugees, told reporters today that “Gaza risks becoming a virtually 100 percent aid-dependent, closed-down and isolated community within a matter of months or weeks, if the present regime of closure continues.

“Israel sealed the main commercial crossing point, known as Karni, after the takeover by Hamas, an Islamic militant group that it considers to be a terrorist organization. Basic foodstuffs, medicines and other essential supplies enter the strip through smaller crossings, but some Gaza factories have had to close because of a lack of raw materials, and none of Gaza ‘s agricultural produce or other exports have been allowed out. All goods moving in and out of Gaza have to pass through Israel .

Figures released by the Association of Palestinian Businessmen indicate that if the closure continues, at least 120,000 workers in Gaza could lose their jobs.

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