The New York Times reports: For nearly four decades, Al Awda Co. has stocked Gaza’s shelves with sweets and snacks, starting as a humble refugee-camp bakery and growing into a 180,000-square-foot factory with 600 workers.
On Wednesday, all that was left was a faint whiff of chocolate amid the sour smell of a fire that burned for three days.
A barrage of Israeli artillery turned Al Awda into a charred graveyard of machinery and material. The $1.3 million German control panel that powered the place became a metal cabinet of fried wires. Some 300 tons each of sugar, flour and margarine — gone. Metal roofs collapsed, cinder-block walls had gaping holes, floors were carpeted in rubble.
“I didn’t even go to the third floor; I don’t want to see what’s there,” said Mohammed Al Telbani, 61, who founded the business in 1977. “I’m used to building. I’m not used to destruction.”
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During Israel’s monthlong air-and-ground assault on the Gaza Strip, the world’s attention has focused on the more than 1,800 Palestinians killed and the more than 30,000 homes destroyed or damaged. But as a temporary truce held and talks toward a longer-term cease-fire began Wednesday, business leaders said that 175 of Gaza’s most successful industrial plants had also taken devastating hits, plunging an already despairing economy into a deeper abyss. [Continue reading…]