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Chinese motorcycles fill streets of Gaza

Suddenly, Chinese-made ones are filling the streets as they are being auctioned in the public square of the poverty-stricken city.

world Updated: Feb 07, 2008 10:24 IST

Many people in the Gaza Strip can't afford to buy motorbikes as the cheapest cost is around $800. But, suddenly, Chinese-made ones are filling the streets as they are being auctioned in the public square of the poverty-stricken city.

The small coastal enclave is witnessing an unprecedented sale in the motorcycles that were brought from Sinai when militants of Hamas, which rules the territory, blew up the border with Egypt last month, allowing besieged Gazans to freely enter the Egyptian territories.

Zahir al-Massri, 44, an unemployed man, bought three motorcycles from al-Arsih, a coastal town in Sinai which is about 40 km to the south of the Gaza Strip, and returned backed with them.

"I bought one single motorcycle for $700 and sold two here in Gaza for $1,400 each," al-Massri said, adding, "I made some good money, it is better than staying watching for nothing."

After he was 18, Zahir used to work in the construction sector inside Israel. When the second Intifada (rebellion or conflict) broke out in 2000, he became jobless due to the Israeli restrictions on the workers' movement into Israel.

Zahir, the father of six who lives in the Khan Younis refugee camp in southern Gaza Strip, sold his wife's jewels a week before the border was opened since the prices of gold were radically high.

"I was planning to cover some of my daughter's university fees and now, thanks God, I can cover it from the earning and return the jewels back to my wife."

Zahir was one of more than half of Gaza's 1.5 million populations who crossed into Sinai and bought goods to sell them in Gaza and cover the costs of their trip to al-Arish.

At Palestine Square in the east of Gaza City, the auctions took place on motorcycles, cigarettes, hookah tobacco, potato chips and cleaning formulations.

Everything was bought from al-Arish, and now it is the time for selling.

A gentleman in his early fifties appeared to be a catch customer. He refused to give his name, just identifying himself working for an international organization in Gaza City.

"My son always dreamt to have his own motorcycle," said the man after buying one for his 19-year-old son Mohammed. "I don't have to wait for a taxi now. It is so why I want this cycle."

Medical sources said that two people were killed and tens injured by these motorcycles since they are randomly given to the children.

The health ministry of Hamas called on the authorities to make decision securing the protection of the people's life.

The new cycle fans now fear regulation measures by Hamas authorities.