Bakers in Gaza refused to bake bread Wednesday, charging that Hamas is keeping prices artificially low to head off unrest among their sanctions-weary people.
Gaza has been facing severe shortages during months of international and Israeli restrictions, and the bakery strike sent people into a frenzy. Hundreds converged on bakeries in the middle of the night to stock up on bread.
On Wednesday, bakeries were still selling expensive baguettes and white bread, a luxury for most Gazans. Bakers said their strike is open-ended until Hamas lets them raise prices to cope with the shortage of goods resulting from an Israeli blockade.
Defying the strike, Hamas said Wednesday it will not budge _ it will not agree to increase bread prices. In recent weeks, Hamas has closed 11 bakeries for trying to raise prices.
A 3-kilogram bag of pita bread, a staple in Gaza meals, sells for 8 shekels ($2.30, â‚¬1.45). The owners want to increase it to 9 shekels ($2.50, â‚¬1.60). The price in the West Bank is as high as 15 shekels ($4.20, â‚¬2.70).
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