Sunday, September 12, 2010

Building fishing boats in the Gaza Strip

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Hajj Ashraf Abu Ash-Shanti builds boats, a profession he learned in Israel.

"I was the first to work in this profession in the Gaza Strip at the beginning of the 1980s, when I was working within the Green Line areas. I decided to stay in Gaza and teach the profession to others in my region."

He adds: "After four years of working with boats in the sector, I'm famous [for building them]. All fishermen in the Strip want my boats because they're of stronger quality than those available in Israel."

Ash-Shanti says Israel's siege has driven demand to his products, since they're the only ones available in Gaza, but it has also harmed the industry by limiting the areas in which fishermen are allowed to operate.

But Israel limits the size of boats allowed at sea to seven meters, which stifles Ash-Shanti's ability to produce.

Asked how he makes them, Ash-Shanti said that "in the beginning we used to make boats out of wood ... available in the Gaza Strip. However, this type of wood needs a highly skilled carpenter. We faced difficulty in manufacturing, but now we're able to import wood from abroad. This is much easier and faster for manufacturing boats."