Gaza City cracks down on motorcycles

Is Gaza the toughest place in the world to be a biker?

LAWMAKERS in Gaza have continued their draconian campaign against motorcycle usage, taking the bold step of banning the import of spare parts for motorcycles into the ancient Palestinian city.

Interior Ministry official Hassan Akashed has admitted that the move aims to directly reduce the number of motorcycles, which he claims are a main cause of car accidents.

Motorcyclists in the city have been subject to an ongoing crack down, banning them from riding after midnight, and restricting women from riding. The Interior Ministry recently announced that it was banning women from riding bikes or being pillion passengers, to limit accidents and 'protect community values.'

Despite all appearances to the contrary (and the efforts of the ruling party, the ultra-conservative Islamic fundamentalist group Hamas), motorcycle culture in Gaza has flourished in recent years.

Israel's blockade of Gaza has meant that parts for cars have been impossible to get hold of and the cost of maintaining them has become unsustainable for most. As a result, motorcycles have seen a huge surge in popularity.

Just five years ago there were only about a dozen or so motorcycles in the city but there has been a vast increase in parts being smuggled from Egypt. The number of motorcycles in Gaza had grown to around 15,000 by 2010. 

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