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Feeding Gaza: Traders run gauntlet of bullets, bombs and bribes

Feeding Gaza: Traders run gauntlet of bullets, bombs and bribes
5 July 2024 09:46

 GAZA (Reuters)

Mohammed describes a delivery job from hell. He said he has to fork out more than $14,000 for each truck of food he brings into the besieged enclave to pay sky-high transport costs, bribes to middlemen and protection from looters. That’s up from $1,500-$4,000 before the war began in October.

“It’s barely worth my while. But I need food, my neighbours need food, the whole of Gaza needs food.” Mohammed said he doesn’t like it, but he’s forced to hike prices of some fresh food like dairy products, fruit and chicken to 10 times their normal value just to break even, though he knows this puts them out of reach of many hungry Gazans.

He and 17 other people interviewed by Reuters, most of them traders and aid workers in Gaza with direct knowledge of the supply situation, described a chaotic system that often makes it too dangerous or costly for business owners to import food, even as aid agencies warn of the growing risk of famine.

The bulk of the money spent on importing food goes on ballooning trucking costs, according to the people interviewed. Cargoes also often have to wait for days, either near their departure points in the occupied West Bank or the Kerem Shalom border crossing from Israel into southern Gaza to be inspected by Israeli soldiers and approved to enter the enclave, they added, further driving up costs.

Meanwhile, none of the private-sector goods have made it to northern Gaza, where aid agencies say hunger is most acute, because the Israeli military has closed that area off to their commercial deliveries, all eight traders said. Two aid workers confirmed the only food available in northern Gaza is aid, with no commercial goods for sale.

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