A severe shortage of coins in the Gaza Strip has prompted some Palestinians to use chewing gum, pens, cigarettes and cookies as a substitute for small change.

The shortage has come about because, in an attempt to overcome an Israeli ban on copper importation, many Gazans have resorted to melting currency, specifically half-shekel and 10-agorot coins, in order to make use of the molten metal for electric wires and cables.

Widespread employment of this technique has made Israeli coins scarce in the Strip.

Given the lack of official recognized currency, small business operators and taxi drivers in Gaza have begun handing out cheap items instead of change, Ynet reported.

“Each driver started to stock up on small products such as chewing gum, candles, pens, cookies and candies,” Abed, a resident of Gaza, told the website.

“Passengers pay the driver, and instead of change, the driver gives them gum or a cookie, or a cigarette, anything that’s equivalent in worth to half a shekel.”

Abed said the new arrangements did not faze him nor any other citizens in the Strip, as Palestinians in the area were accustomed to adapting to change.

“Residents of Gaza have more difficult problems than a shortage of half-shekel [coins], so they do not really care that taxis have become a sort of convenience store,” he was quoted as saying.