Truck protest closes Gaza border crossing

GAZA CITY: Dozens of truck drivers prevented goods from entering the Gaza Strip from Israel on Tuesday in a day-long protest at the humanitarian situation in the Palestinian enclave.

The trucks belonging to Gazan businesses blocked the roads near the Kerem Shalom crossing into Israel, the main entry point for imports into Gaza, in a protest organized by private sector associations.

Nahed Shuhibar, head of the Gaza’s Private Transport Association, said more than 50 trucks were being used in the protest.

“Our message is that we have children and families who want to live,” he said.
Around 150 protesters took part in the demonstration. Many held signs condemning Israel and calling for reconciliation between rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah, which many hope could help ease conditions in Gaza.

Gaza suffers from around 40 percent unemployment and more than two-thirds of its two million residents rely on international aid, according to the United Nations.

The UN’s envoy for the Middle East peace process warned last week that the enclave was on the verge of “full collapse.”

Israel has maintained a crippling blockade on the coastal territory for a decade, while Egypt has also largely sealed its border in recent years.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s secular Fatah party based in the occupied West Bank and Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas agreed a reconciliation deal in October, but its implementation has faltered.

Two weeks ago, private sector companies in Gaza organized a general strike to protest economic conditions in the strip.

The number of Gazan businesspeople granted Israeli permits to leave the territory has more than halved in the past year, UN figures show.

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