Bread runs out in face of Israeli closure
Walking around Gaza today, one would have thought there was a war looming (well, I guess we are in a perpetual state of low-intensity war, but still). Most bakeries throughout the city were closed by mid-afternoon, with the only remaining ones jam-packed with customers, lines extending out to the streets till late at night.
The reason: flour stocks have officially run out in Gaza due to a 44-day and going-strong Israeli-imposed closure of the only commerical crossing for goods and humanitarian supplies. Palestinians in Gaza consume around 350 tons of flour per day, but all flour mills have shut down due to the depletion of wheat stocks, and bakeries are working through their last bags of stored flour. As word of the shortage spread, residents flocked to bakeries-in many cases bringing their own bags of flour with them.
In one bakery I went to, the scene was one of panic and fear, with Israeli war jets roaring overhead and men lining up for hours, children taking the place sometimes. At one point, two men's nerves snapped and a fight nearly broke out on whose turn it was. A group of armed men immediately came in to break it up (interestingly, a cigarette smoking police officer walked casually on by, despite my pleas to get him to intervene).
Bags of bread were rationed-two per family-to make sure there was enough for all, as the final truckload of stored flour was delivered to the bakery.
Palestinian Minister of Economy Mazen Sanakrot on Saturday warned of a humanitarian disaster in the Gaza Strip if the situation of the border was not resolved.
Yousuf carrying our "ration" of bread home from the bakery.