World Bulletin / News Desk
Egypt's crackdown on tunnels along its border with the Gaza Strip is making shortages ever tighter and has forced the Gaza rulers to consider urgent alternatives.
Gaza officials asked Egypt late on Monday to consider alternative trade routes, such as a free trade zone, a direct deal that could boost tax revenues in the Israel-besieged Gaza.
Egypt started closing the tunnels after the Aug. 5 attack in Sinai when gunmen killed 16 Egyptian soldiers.
On Saturday, hundreds protested at the Gaza border, demanding that Cairo stop sealing tunnels, chanting: "Closing the tunnels is a death sentence for Gaza."
Israel has imposed a blockade on Gaza since 2007.
Last year Egypt allowed more people to cross at the border with Gaza in the town of Rafah but it is used only for travel, not goods. Officially, goods enter Gaza only through Israel.
Maher Al-Tabbaa, a Gaza-based economist, said that 30 percent of Gaza's goods come from the tunnels. Tunnellers say 80 percent of food sold in Gaza comes through the tunnels.
"If tunnels are closed there will be a complete collapse in Gaza. It would suffer an economic catastrophe," he said.
"The tunnel business is drying up and Egyptian security forces are working day and night to seal the tunnels. In one area along the border 180 tunnels have been closed," tunnel owner Abu Abdallah told Reuters.
He said that the clampdown had led to a rise in food prices in the territory and that construction materials such as cement and steel had also become more expensive.
"The construction boom in Gaza will come to a halt soon as all tunnels that used to bring in gravel have been blocked by Egyptian security," said Abdallah, who employs 40 people.
Ali, a tunneller for the past five years, said the import of building materials was becoming impossible because Egyptian suppliers were raising their prices, while Hamas was not allowing them to follow suit.
"A tonne of cement now costs 400 shekels (about $100) but Hamas forces us to sell at 370 shekels, which means I will lose even before paying the workers who pull the goods through the tunnel," Ali told Reuters.
"I and many others have stopped working because Hamas regulations do not take our losses into account," he said.
Jihad Abu El-Kass, whose family owns a Gaza City supermarket, said dairy products were in short supply.
Hamas officials have urged Egypt to allow Rafah crossing to be used for goods also.
Gaza's Hamas Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh, mooted setting up a free trade area between Gaza and Egypt at a meeting on Monday night with Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil, a Hamas government official told Reuters from Cairo.
"We explained the concept in detail ... the idea is to alleviate the economic hardship in Gaza," Taher al-Nono said.
An Egyptian official told Reuters that the proposal was made at the meeting but that it was too early for a response.
The sheer desire of high-skilled workers to come to Britain is a massive compliment to our economy, says Boris Johnson
The Kremlin said last month that the two men agreed, in their first phone call after Trump's election win in November, on the need to "normalise" Russia-US relations.
Capping a week of tributes and mass rallies, Castro's ashes will be interred at the Santa Ifigenia cemetery in Santiago de Cuba, the eastern city where his revolution was launched more than a half-century ago.
Trump laid down the gauntlet on Thursday at a campaign-style rally after striking a deal with Carrier to keep about 1,100 jobs in Indiana in exchange for $7 million in state tax incentives over 10 years.
Whatever the outcome of a vote being anxiously watched in capitals across Europe and carefully scrutinised on trading floors around the world, it will lead to change.
The workers had gone missing when a cross-border tunnel collapsed a week ago
The party dropped a bid to pursue the recount in a state court, citing difficulties raising a million dollar bond demanded by the tribunal. It said it would instead press on in federal court and file suit Monday.
Federal prosecutor’s office says suspect is key figure of terror group DKHP-C's European wing
As many as 40 people have been suspected to be killed during a fire that broke out at a rave party
Gambians celebrated after the surprise defeat of their longtime president.
Algeria held talks with Nigeria as far back as 2002 for a similar pipeline crossing the Sahel region, however the Algerian government was unable to finance the project.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and French President Francois Hollande agreed that a deal on Greece's bailout review must be reached by Monday, when euro zone finance ministers are meeting in Brussels, Tsipras' office said on Saturday.
The Native Americans and protesters say the $3.8 billion pipeline threatens water resources and sacred sites.
Burundi police had already arrested a lieutenant-colonel and a corporal on Monday, hours before the assassination attempt.
Separate rescue missions have saved 72 refugees from the Mediterranean
Israel bans Muslims’ call to prayer at Ibrahimi Mosque 48 times in November