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Gaza car dealers protest import taxes

June 13, 2011 5:57 P.M. (Updated: June 16, 2011 4:26 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Car dealers in Gaza refused a shipment of vehicles on Thursday in protest over a recent decision by the local government to increase car import tax by 25 percent.

The Association of Auto Dealers said the move was a final attempt to pressure the Hamas-led government to withdraw a proposal to up taxes on cars imported from Israel. The proposal was presented to the government for consideration earlier this year, and was passed on May 4.

After the law was passed, AAD officials met with leaders from the local Ministries of Transportation, Finance and Economy to discuss the ramifications of the decision, but no attempts have been made to repeal the new law.

Ismail An-Nakhala, who heads the AAD, said that the association had refused to receive shipments since May 28.

Shipments of 20 cars at a time have been permitted to enter the Gaza Strip periodically since mid-2009.

Taxes levied on cars brought in through the crossings have remained constant since September 2010. Specialized importers have acted as middlemen between companies in Israel and Gaza.

Shortly before the new law was passed, the Gaza government called for an end to the role of the middleman, AAD officials said.
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