RAFAH, Egypt (AFP) — Khaled Salah's shop in the border town of Rafah is almost empty, to the immense disappointment of Palestinians who fled a blockaded Gaza to stock up on vital supplies across the border in Egypt.
Only two tins of vegetable oil and a few honey jars sit on the shelves of his modest grocery shop in the divided town that straddles the Sinai peninsula and the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.
Several hundred thousand Palestinians have swarmed into Egypt since militants blew up the Rafah barricades on Tuesday night after a punishing Israeli lockdown of the territory cut vital fuel and aid supplies.
But after six days, supplies are running dry and Egyptian authorities are barring trucks from bringing in fresh deliveries.
"The shops are empty and they won't let us go to El-Arish (further west). Never mind, we'll have a look around Rafah," sighs Sabah al-Arji surrounded by her 11 children.
Around the town, desperate shoppers are scrounging for goods, their trousers rolled up and their feet dipping in the mud caused by the rare rainfall.
"It is incredible, there is nothing left!" exclaimed a stunned Walid, 45, who had come from Khan Yunis in northern Gaza with a simple shopping list -- jam and washing powder.
"They bought everything, good for us. Thank God, we made a lot of profit," Salah, the young grocer, told AFP.
"But now we are waiting for new supplies," he said. "We don't know when they will arrive, the trucks are still stuck."
On Sunday, Egyptian authorities began preventing trucks from coming from Cairo to the border town, where a security cordon has been imposed to prevent Palestinians travelling further afield.
On the road leading to Salaheddine, the main border entry point, shop owners shut their doors as they waited to re-stock.
But the pavement in front of the deserted shops was crackling with activity as local Bedouin sought to sell goats and a young man from El-Arish negotiated the price of a motorbike with a Palestinian.
Cigarettes, packets of crisps, cheese, oil barrels exchanged hands.
"I'm looking for a mobile phone! Who can sell me a mobile phone?" shouts one Palestinian in the middle of the crowd.
Neither mobile phones, nor clothes or shoes can be found.
"I was stripped of goods from day two," said a smiling Sami Ibrahim, 25, who runs the shoe shop Midou, now full of empty boxes.
"The sooner they let the goods pass the better. Demand is still very high," said the savvy young Egyptian who quickly priced his goods in shekels, the Israeli currency used in Gaza.
"We are mostly missing vaccinations for the children which ran out on the first day," said one pharmacist in Rafah.
"We have ordered a shipment but authorities have blocked it at the Peace Bridge," which leads into Sinai, she said.
Despite the shortages, thousands of Palestinians continue to make the back and forth trek between Gaza and Egypt, in the desperate hope of re-stocking.
Authorities in Egypt are struggling to control the flow of people and goods.
The Egyptian army on Monday resealed a part of the breached border near the Brazil entrance to Gaza, but there are many gaps yet to fill.
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