Can’t find a PlayStation 5 console? There are supplies in… Gaza | Gaza

It is surrounded on all sides, regularly bombed and in the grip of a shortage of life-saving medicines. Yet as Christmas approaches, the isolated Gaza Strip has – for once – abundant supplies of something the rest of the world craves but can rarely find: a brand new PlayStation 5.

Sony’s flagship video game console is a hot property this holiday season, although most people who have requested one will be very disappointed on Christmas morning.

A global supply chain crisis paired with a shortage of semiconductors – vital computer chips used in the console – have kept inventory scarce. While used, resold and stolen PS5s can be found, they are rare and often cost much more than the retail price of £ 359- £ 449.

In downtown Gaza, the price is also well above the official figure. Still, unused PS5s can be seen in a few storefronts.

Hassan al-Baik, who runs an electronics store, owns five consoles but says he struggles to sell them in the impoverished enclave. “There is not a great demand for the devices in Gaza because their prices are still high,” he said. Baik says his few customers are mostly gaming cafes, makeshift arcades that cover the high price by charging Palestinians to gamble.

The first PS5s arrived in Gaza in April as contraband, Baik says. They came from Dubai, dismantled, smuggled in pieces through Egypt and reassembled in Gaza. A handful sold for almost £ 1,200.

However, Baik said Israel in recent months has allowed suppliers in Gaza to import consoles from Israeli traders – at a higher price. The price has since fallen in Gaza to between £ 765 and £ 860, although many are lingering on the shelves.

At least three stores have PS5 stock. Adham Masri, a salesperson at a store, Mobile Zone, said he sells three to five devices a month. “But the demand is limited,” he said.

When Sony launched the PS5 just over a year ago, retailers in the US and UK were overwhelmed with demand, with several shopping websites collapsing as people rushed to buy one.

Woman from Gaza walks past store selling PlayStation5 consoles Photography: Hazem Balousha / The Guardian

Over the past year, the Japanese entertainment and electronics conglomerate has installed drip consoles, which normally sell out in seconds. Gamers hoping to buy one spend hours scouring the internet for information – often leaked by store workers – about where and when the next stock “drop” will appear.

Gaza is an unusual place to get PS5 supplies. Israel and Egypt, citing security concerns, have maintained a crippling blockade for years and residents are calling the territory “the world’s largest prison” due to their inability to travel freely.

Israel routinely prevents everyday items, from cement to batteries to medical supplies, from entering Gaza, saying they could be used by the Hamas military group to make homemade rockets. UN experts say the blockade is a form of collective punishment for the gang’s 2 million residents.

The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, Unrwa, says 80% of the population depends on international aid. Separately, a World Bank report last month said unemployment had hit nearly 50% earlier this year, even before the devastating 11-day war in May. “This is the highest unemployment rate in the World Bank database,” he said. Three in four graduates in Gaza have no prospect of employment, according to the report. “Despite their gravity, these figures do not fully reflect the degree of suffering of the citizens of Gaza,” the World Bank report said.

Yet even the most coveted luxury goods will find a way to enter the Strip.

PS5’s main competitor, Microsoft’s Xbox Series X, is also available in Gaza, Baik said, although it also finds few buyers. “I received a request recently,” he said of the new Xbox – but only for two consoles.

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