According to reports from the Strip, ever since the start of Operation Cast Lead there has been a shortage in basic commodities, and those who manage to get their hands on them discover that their prices have been doubled.
The supply of basic commodities has dropped significantly since Sunday, when the Israel Defense Forces bombed dozens of smuggling tunnels at the Philadelphi Route.
Residents in the Strip reported that a sack of flour was sold on Tuesday for more than NIS 200 (about $53), compared to less than NIS 100 ($26.5) before the IDF operation which began Saturday. Many Gazans say they have been left without flour, as the vast majority of sales points have not been opened.
Taking advantage of distress
Sources in the Strip claim that the big merchants have basic commodities in stock, but some are afraid to bring out the goods and market them these days, while others are taking advantage of the distress in order to increase their profits.
The prices of fuel, which had been smuggled from Egypt until Sunday, have seen a significant rise since the military operation began. On Tuesday 1 liter of petrol was sold in Gaza for more than NIS 10 ($2.65), compared to only NIS 2.8 (74 cents) last week. This price rise is the reason why many private cars and public transportation vehicles are paralyzed.
Boycott on Israeli products
Meanwhile, merchants and industrialists from the West Bank are attempting to maximize their profits by taking advantage of the waves of hostility against Israel in light of the events in Gaza.
"The Popular Campaign for Palestinian Products" in Bethlehem issued a statement Tuesday calling on local consumers to boycott Israeli products due to the "aggression" in the Gaza Strip.
The statement said that every year the West Bank's resident spend billions of shekels on the purchase of non-Palestinian products, and that some 92% of them are Israeli products. According to the organizers of the new campaign, the Palestinian residents in the West Bank consume fruits and vegetables of Israeli produce worth about NIS 420 million ($111.5 million) a year.
Dr. Gil Feiler is founder and managing director of Info-Prod Research (Middle East) Ltd. , and Doron Peskin is head of research