No particular enthusiasm was noted in the Gaza Strip on Monday, a day after Israel declared an easing of the blockade. As no serious shortage was felt prior to the step, virtually no product that was sold Monday was not in the market the previous day.
One major difference, however, was noted: Prices of many products have dropped dramatically, ultimately leaving the blockade's biggest earners, the smugglers, with significantly less business.
According to the Palestinian official in charge of the transfer of goods into Gaza, the number of trucks which entered the Strip via the Kerem Shalom crossing on Monday was the same as in any other previous day – 130. Local residents and dealers are hardly surprised, seeing as the demand for goods must grow before any more trucks enter the area.
Currently, Gaza's markets are short for nothing, as all missing provisions were supplied via the tunnels.
Trucks enter Kerem Shalom crossing (Photo: Tzafrir Abayov)
The main change is in the price levels. Tunnel products were always more expensive due to the risk factor, but with emerging competition rates are rapidly dropping.
The soda market, for example, saw a 50% drop in the prices of smuggled beverages within a day. "The factory owners realize they must lower their prices before goods come flooding in from Israel," a local shopkeeper explained.
A change was also felt in the price of cement. One can now get one ton of cement for NIS 700 ($183.12), compared with a previous price range of NIS 1,200-1,700.
Change in quality
Gazans are aware of the fact that the quality of Israeli goods will have an effect on products smuggled through the tunnels.
"Usually the Israeli merchandise is considered of better quality, and this is known not only to the dealers, but to the smugglers too, many of whom, and particularly the tunnel owners, have become very rich," the shop keeper said.
Gazans are therefore eagerly waiting for the arrival of Israeli chocolate and milk products and hoping to enjoy better quality and lower prices.
Still, one product which was previously in particularly low supply will now be provided - diesel oil. One of the Gaza Strip's most pressing problems was frequent power-outages. With the introduction of diesel oil the electricity shortage will be significantly alleviated, enabling residents to finally use air-conditioners and fans in the sweltering summer.