The Levant Exclusive — By Jasmin Rasheed — Cement prices have nearly doubled in the Gaza Strip over the past two weeks, rising from NIS 850 per ton to NIS 1,400-1,500.
According to Palestinian sources, the reason for the spike is the cement shortage in Gaza Strip markets – the amount of cement brought into the Gaza Strip from Israel, the only source of cement supply, has dropped 50%.
Sources say families whose homes were damaged in the last war, and who are entitled to receive cement in order to fix them, are mainly the ones suffering from the rising prices. As a result of the current scarcity, even those entitled to receive cement are unable to obtain their full official quotas and finish rebuilding their homes. Large-scale merchants in the building materials industry prompt them to sell whatever amount they receive at a slightly higher rate than market price, and they then offer this overpriced cement for sale on the black market.
Projects funded by international organizations have not suffered setbacks as a result of the rising prices, while Hamas government has been forced to turn to the black market for cement.
Sources added that the current situation is expected to improve with the opening of the Rafah Crossing, which will allow in enough cement to meet the demand and drive down prices back to normal levels.
On 30 August the Rafah crossing was opened for three days to allow pilgrims from the Gaza Strip to leave for the Hajj in Saudi Arabia. While the crossing was open for pilgrims it also allowed 3,000 tons of cement to be brought into the Gaza Strip. This cement supply is a ray of light in the midst of a longstanding strangulating siege imposed on the Gazans, who hope they will be able to use this cement to reconstruct their damaged houses.