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Israeli blockade forces Gaza's only pharmaceutical factory to close

Sept. 10, 2008 12:23 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 10, 2008 12:23 P.M.)
Gaza - Ma'an - The Gaza Strip's only pharmaceutical factory is shutting down due to the Israeli blockade of the coastal territory, said Marwan Al-Astal chairman of board of directors of Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat factories on Wednesday.

Al-Astal said that the factory would suspend operations on Tuesday because is Israelis not allowing sufficient materials into the Gaza Strip to continue operations.

Al-Astal told Ma'an, "The factory operated at 20% for a year, then 10% and now it produces nothing." The facility used to produce five varieties of medicine.

The closure is will worsen a shortage of medicines and medical supplies in Gaza resulting also from the blockade. By one count, 250 Palestinians have died either because hospitals were not equipped or because they were not allowed to leave the Strip for treatment.

Israel sealed the Gaza Strip in June 2007, imposing a closure that devastated the Gazan economy and caused shortages of vital supplies of food, fuel, medicine, and raw materials. Hundreds of thousands lost their jobs due to the shutdown of industries including manufacturing and construction.

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