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Amid closure, Gazan merchants report mistreatment by Israeli soldiers at crossing points

Nov. 26, 2008 12:04 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 26, 2008 12:04 P.M.)
Gaza - Ma'an - Israeli soldiers have verbally abused Palestinian workers and merchants at the Gaza Strips border crossings, even amid the most severe closure of the crossings in months.

Israel has tightly regulated traffic in and out of occupied Gaza since the 1990s, and has imposed a nearly complete closure for the last two years. In addition, Palestinians say, whenever the borders are briefly open, they are mistreated by the Israelis they interact with.

Several merchants and workers from the Gaza Strip, told Ma'an that Israeli officers and soldiers staffing terminals regularly curse and lash out at them. They are also forced to wait for hours to receive goods they have already paid taxes and duties for.

Often, after waiting for hours, the terminals are closed before the goods are allowed to cross. The merchants go home empty handed and the Israeli officers send the tucks back to their origins.

A worker says that one day he waited at the Kerem Shalom Crossing from 8:00am till 2:00pm to receive a truckload of calves. Calves are usually imported from Holland and Australia.

He said he saw the cattle arriving at the Israeli side of the terminal. Instead of being allowed to receive his cargo, he and other merchants were approached by an Israeli soldier.

"You dogs go home," the soldier barked.

Several other merchants stated that they hear Israeli soldiers cursing them and the people of Gaza, yet they insist on waiting in hopes of receiving the goods, which they hope will ease the suffering of people under siege.

Furthermore, merchants say exorbitant amounts to Israelis to store goods on the Israeli side when the borders are closed.

A textile merchant told Ma'an that he has been waiting two years for a shipment of clothing which is still stored, at great expense, at the port of Ashdod. By now, he says, the clothes will have gone out of style.
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