In first since Morsi era, Egypt allows import of 40 cars into Gaza

Gaza, to which Israel also limits the entry of goods and people, is facing a dire economic situation with unemployment at 42%.

December 18, 2016 14:08
1 minute read.
Rafah border crossing

A Gaza woman waits at Rafah for a travel permit to cross into Egypt, June 14.. (photo credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA / REUTERS)

Egypt allowed for the entry of new cars into the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing for the first time in more than three years on Saturday.

“This is the first time Egypt has permitted the import of new cars since the president Mohamed Morsi era,” the Palestinian official told The Jerusalem Post, adding that Egypt also allowed the import of a handful of cement and firewood trucks on Saturday.

A total of 40 cars entered the Gaza Strip on Saturday.

Current Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has heavily limited the number of goods and people entering the Gaza Strip since assuming the presidency in 2013.

Sisi has also cracked down on smuggling tunnels between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, demolishing and flooding hundreds of them.

The official added that it is not clear if Egypt will allow future imports, but said he remains hopeful.

“We do not know anything about future imports at this time, but God willing these steps will continue and develop,” he said.

Maher Tabaa, the head of public relations at the Gaza Chamber of Commerce, told the Post that the current level of imports from Egypt to the Gaza Strip is insufficient.

“The total amount of imports in 2015 from Egypt to Gaza was $67 million. Considering the historic and neighborly relations between Egypt and Gaza, that amount is not suitable,” Tabaa said in a phone call on Sunday.

However, Tabaa said that the conclusions of a conference in November that brought together Palestinian businesspeople and Egyptian officials in Ain Sokhna, Egypt have made him hopeful about the future.

“At the conference, it was clear that there has been a change in thinking on the Egyptian side,” Tabaa said, adding, “I believe the entry of cars is a glimmer of hope, which may foreshadow the entry of other goods and the reactivation of the Rafah border crossing.”

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