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Tuesday, February 15, 2011     GET REAL

Hamas yields to black market, further restricts Israeli imports

GAZA CITY — The Hamas regime, under pressure from powerful smugglers, has imposed additional restrictions on imports from Israel.


The Hamas National Economy Ministry announced restrictions on imports from Israel to the Gaza Strip. The statement on Feb. 13 cited a ban on clothing manufacturing in Israel as well as restrictions on food and household products.

"The ban and restrictions apply only to goods manufactured in Israel," the statement said.

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Palestinian sources said the Hamas regime has been under pressure from the powerful smugglers community in the Gaza Strip, Middle East Newsline reported. They said smugglers, including those close to Hamas leaders, have complained that the flood of Israeli imports were threatening the tunnel network, one of the biggest sources of employment in the Gaza Strip. The network was said to include 1,500 tunnels.

The National Economy Ministry said Gaza merchants must acquire government permits to sell household items manufactured in Israel. The list included tissues, toilet paper, plastic products, juices, cookies and candies.

The statement said products manufactured outside of Israel would be allowed into the Gaza Strip without restriction. The ministry said the new measures would continue indefinitely.

This marked the second set of restrictions on Israeli imports this year. Palestinian sources said the Hamas regime has blocked fuel imports from Israel and instead was smuggling fuel from neighboring Egypt.

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