Affidavit No. 4492/2008

Sworn Statement

After having been warned to tell the truth and nothing but the truth or else I shall be subjected to penal action, I, the undersigned, Hamdan Muhammad Hamdan Hassouna, of Palestinian nationality, holder of ID No. 964602262, born on 27 March 1967, owner of Hassouna's Bakery and a resident of al-Rimal neighbourhood, Gaza Governorate, would like to declare the following:

I am Hamdan Muhammad Hamdan Hassoun. I am married and the father of eight children. I am the owner of Hassoun's Bakery on Abu-Hasira Street, opposite the northern gate of al-Shfia' Hospital in al-Rimal neighbourhood in the centre of Gaza City. I have owned my bakery for five years. The bakery operates on a semiautomatic system and is dependent on gas (cooking gas) and electricity in order to operate its machinery, from the kneader to the cooler and the oven. Ten employees work for me, earning various salaries between the worker and the producer, and they work on a daily basis. The bakery produces 30 sacks of flour everyday, with a sack weighing 50 kilogrammes. Under normal circumstances, the bakery operates for 14 to 16 hours a day in order to produce enough bread to meet the needs of citizens and clients such as restaurants, hotels, and the like.

From mid-June 2007, I began to suffer from a severe shortage of flour, gas and electricity, especially with the continuous closure of crossing points into the Gaza Strip and the Israeli occupying authorities’ refusal to allow the import of sufficient quantities of gas, flour and wheat. In addition to the reduction in the quantity of industrial fuel specifically for the electricity company upon which all of Gaza City depends, my suffering has increased since 5 November 2008, when the Israeli occupying authorities completely closed off all of the crossing points into the Gaza Strip. They did not allow the transportation of gas and flour necessary to operate the bakery. Similarly, the occupying authorities have refused to supply the electricity generation station with the industrial fuel necessary for its operation, causing prolonged electricity outages. We are connected to the electric current for barely two hours during the entire daytime, and two hours during the night.

With the occupying forces’ continuing to completely close off crossing points into the Gaza Strip, with their refusal to allow the passage of quantities of flour and wheat for the residents of the Gaza Strip, and with their refusal to  allow the passage of gas and fuel, I was forced to rearrange my business. So I exhausted all of my stores of gas and flour and used an electric generator to produce the energy necessary to operate the bakery so that I would not be forced to stop my work, which is the sole source of income for me and my workers. My employees are not able to provide enough for their children to live on if they miss even one day of work, as they receive low wages ranging from 30 to 70 Israeli shekels per day each.

In order to overcome the severe crisis that the bakery underwent during the past period, in which the occupying authorities completely closed the Gaza Strip crossing points, I was forced to gradually reduce the quantity of flour produced by the bakery in order to still meet citizens' needs and to make a living for myself, as well as my workers. Therefore, citizens were forced to wait in queues for long hours to buy only one batch of bread per customer. I also refrained from meeting my obligations to large restaurants and hotels that I used to provide bread for on a regular basis.

As a result, I lost the bakery's clients whom I depended upon in supplying quantities of bread that the bakery produced. I continued to gradually reduce the quantities of bread produced by the bakery. Since the occupying authorities closed the crossing points on 5 November 2008, the bakery has been producing 15 sacks of 50 kilograms of flour, which is only 50% of the daily production capacity. It should be noted that this quantity requires the consumption of a large, 30-kilogramme barrel of gas per day in addition to the amount of diesel necessary to operate the generator for electricity. Moreover, the price of a sack of flour, which I buy from the al-Salam Mills Company, has increased due to flour and wheat shortages. The quality of flour is also bad. The company was forced to use wheat meant for animals and poultry to meet the needs of bakeries and the daily consumption of citizens, as a result of the intensified closure imposed by the Israeli occupying authorities over the Gaza Strip.

The bakery’s stores of flour and gas were depleted and the crisis was further aggravated by frequent, long electricity cuts to areas in Gaza City. The commercial mills were forced to stop supplying flour to bakeries because of access to wheat and flour available to them and the bad quality of their remaining stocks. Thus, I was forced to stop my work completely and close the bakery in the face of my employees and customers due to the exhaustion of flour and gas supplies as well as the very long power outages. It should be noted that with the bakery no longer in operation, my workers and I have lost our only source of income. I also lost many of my bakery’s clients. The machines and tools that the bakery depends on now require a large sum of money for maintenance because they have not been used for an extended period of time. Furthermore, I cannot afford to pay the monthly rent for the
bakery. I have learned from my colleagues who also own semi-automatic bakeries that they too have had to completely cease their operations for the same reasons.

Some have even been forced to resort to using firewood and timber to generate the heat necessary to start their ovens before their stocks of flour are completely depleted.

Affidavit Details

  • Affidavit Number: 4492/2008
  • Field researcher: Mohammad Abu Rahmah
  • Affidavit Date: 24 November 2008
  • Name: Hamdan Muhammad Hamdan Hassouna
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