Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Gaza Taxis Now Running on 'Falafel Fuel'

No word on how this affects the environment, of course, because the poor Palestinians aren't responsible for anything.

Obviously, this is Israel's fault, so when we find out how much damage this does--and you just know there's an inevitable global warming angle--Israel will take the blame.

You see, if it weren't for the Israelis cutting off fuel, these poor guys wouldn't be reduced to using used cooking oil to power their vehicles.
When Hassan Amin al-Bana gingerly steps on the gas pedal of his bright yellow taxi, a strange smell wafts from the exhaust: deep-fried fast food.

Faced with chronic fuel shortages due to an Israeli blockade and a strike by Palestinian distributors protesting supply caps, taxi drivers in the Gaza Strip are filling their tanks with cooking oil, often scrounging leftover fat from street vendors.

"It's not like driving with diesel -- it takes time to get it going in the morning," said Bana, 40, at Gaza City's main taxi stand. "I know it's bad for my car, but I have to pay for food for my kids so what can I do?"

The pumps at Gaza's petrol stations have been deserted for several weeks but brightly-colored cartons of soya bean cooking oil, some smuggled from Egypt, are piled high at the taxi rank in the impoverished territory's main city.

The drivers say they mix the oil with turpentine before filling up. Used oil is better than the fresh stuff so they often beg or buy leftovers from street vendors who sell falafel -- a fried chick-pea snack popular in the Middle East.
Next thing you know we'll hear about a chick-pea shortage.
Ahmed al-Beltaji, who runs a falafel stall at the taxi rank, started selling his leftover oil to drivers about 10 days ago.

"It makes the cars smell like a kitchen -- you feel like falafel is following you," said Beltaji, crinkling his nose. "Next week they'll be putting water in there."

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