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Gaza will run out of wheat Thursday; handful of mills working to process remaining grain

Nov. 18, 2008 4:41 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 18, 2008 4:41 P.M.)
Gaza - Ma'an - Flour mills in Gaza will shut down on Thursday because there is no more wheat in the Strip with which to make flower.

Gaza has experienced wheat shortages since June 2007, said the head of products coordination in Gaza Ra'ed Fattouh.

Fattouh said shipments of wheat were totally stopped two weeks ago. He said that there was a signed agreement with Israel to allow 450 tons of wheat daily into the Strip. For most of the siege there were 300 tons a day shipped into the area. "No ton is shipped now," Fattouh lamented.

Fattouh added that most flour mills in the area shut down when fuel and power ran out, but that some with back-up supplies were able to continue running. According to Fattouh, however, even these few mills will shut down by Thursday since all of the wheat supplies in Gaza will have been used up.

The Khan Younis Mill Company in the southern Gaza Strip closed its doors on Sunday after they exhausted their wheat supplies. New deliveries stopped on 4 November.

Director of the mills Qasim Al-Farra said at its peak the company received 500 tons of wheat per day and produced 370 tons of flour per day. The mill sold 270 tons per day to local markets and the remaining flour to the UN. Neither will receive fresh supplies after Thursday.

Fattouh said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has issued orders to the Ministry of National Economy via its undersecretary Nasser As-Siraj and Chief of Civil Coordination Hussein Ash-Sheikh to do everything possible to ease the suffering of Gazans. He confirmed that both Abbas and the ministries have appealed to Israel to lift the blockade. There has been no response.

Fattouh warned of an impending disaster, and confirmed that he has had no word as to when more wheat will be shipped in.

Bakeries shut down last week after fuel supplies ran out and the Gaza electricity plant ceased to run power to Gaza homes and businesses.

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