Gaza bakeries go on strike because Hamas refuses to raise price of bread

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, €1.45). The owners want to increase it to 9 shekels ($2.50, €1.60). The price in the West Bank is as high as 15 shekels ($4.20, €2.70).