Egypt’s export controls due to Ukraine war halt Gaza rebuilding

A workman takes part in the recycling of salvaged construction materials from buildings destroyed during the May 2021 Israeli attack on Gaza (AFP)

Mohammad Ayesh

Middle East Eye  /  March 23, 2022

Egyptian authorities have imposed restrictions that will lead to the termination of reconstruction projects in the Gaza Strip, according to a report by Arabi Post.

Gaza is witnessing a sharp decline in cement stocks and building materials due to restrictions imposed by the Egyptian side on its exports of building materials to the Strip. 

A Hamas source told Arabi Post that the decision to reduce exports of strategic goods was taken due to the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine to protect the needs of the Egyptian local market.

The restrictions have forced the Palestinian Contractors Union to suspend the implementation of contracted projects after the sharp surge in prices of building materials by more than 30 percent, according to the news website.

In light of these restrictions, cement prices increased by more than 40 percent, iron prices increased by more than 35 percent, while finishing materials, such as aluminum and granite, increased by more than 25 percent.

The Gaza Strip sustain heavy, widespread destruction in Israeli attacks during a conflict between Israel and Hamas in May 2021.

A source in the General Authority for Crossings in Gaza said that cement imports coming from Egypt have decreased from 3,000 tons per week to less than 1,000 tons – a 70 percent decline since 10 March.

The source added that the quantities supplied through the Egyptian side are now limited to the needs of reconstruction projects financed by Cairo. Imports of aluminum and granite were also halted.

“The imports coming from Egypt cover about 40 percent of Gaza Strip’s needs in construction materials”, the source said.

The new restrictions have caused big increases in prices due to low supply and scarcity in markets, which has led to the suspension of dozens of construction and reconstruction projects.

The source said that it is difficult to compensate for the quantities provided by Egypt to cover the requirements of the reconstruction process.

Moreover, they added, the process of searching for new suppliers from countries such as Israel, Jordan or Turkey will not be economically feasible due to the high prices of these materials, which are much higher than those from Egypt. 

This high cost of imports from these countries is due to steep transportation and insurance costs required for any imports coming from outside Egypt to the Gaza Strip.

Mohammad Ayesh is an Arab journalist currently based in London