Is­raeli block­ade pushes Gazans fur­ther into poverty

Some 80 per­cent of Pales­tini­ans live un­der the poverty line, ac­cord­ing to re­ports re­veal­ing dire eco­nomic con­di­tions and the de­te­ri­o­rat­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian sit­u­a­tion in the be­sieged Gaza Strip

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Front Page -

THE RATE of poverty has reached 80 per­cent due to the decade-long Is­raeli block­ade of Gaza, the Pales­tinian Gen­eral Fed­er­a­tion of Trade Unions stated. Unem­ploy­ment in Gaza has dou­bled, reach­ing more than 50 per­cent, in­clud­ing 283,000 work­ers con­sid­ered un­em­ployed in 2018.

THE POVERTY rate in the Gaza Strip has reached 80 per­cent amid more than a decade-long Is­raeli block­ade, ac­cord­ing to the Pales­tinian Gen­eral Fed­er­a­tion of Trade Unions, as re­ported by Ma’an news agency.

Unem­ploy­ment in Gaza has dou­bled, reach­ing more than 50 per­cent, in­clud­ing 283,000 work­ers con­sid­ered un­em­ployed this year, the Pales­tinian Fed­er­a­tion noted, while urg­ing for a per­ma­nent so­lu­tion for high unem­ploy­ment rates among Pales­tini­ans and heavy work con­di­tions.

Al­ready squeezed by the Is­raeli block­ade for the last 12 years, Gaza’s econ­omy has been fur­ther weak­ened by U.S. aid cuts and fi­nan­cial mea­sures. The wind­ing down of the $50-60 mil­lion a year of the United States’ govern­ment aid pro­gram and the cuts to the United Na­tions Re­lief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Pales­tinian refugees have fur­ther de­te­ri­o­rated Gaza’s econ­omy. Dozens of Pales­tini­ans have long demon­strated against high unem­ploy­ment rates in the Gaza Strip, which has been reel­ing un­der a crip­pling Is­raeli block­ade. With poverty ram­pant and unem­ploy­ment high, many of its two mil­lion res­i­dents de­pend on UNRWA ser­vices. Protesters called on lo­cal au­thor­i­ties and the Ramallah-based Min­istry of La­bor to in­ter­vene to cre­ate jobs for job­less Pales­tini­ans in the sea­side en­clave.

Last month, the World Bank warned that the Gaza econ­omy was in “free fall,” call­ing on Is­rael and the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to take im­me­di­ate ac­tions to avoid “im­me­di­ate col­lapse” in the Pales­tinian ter­ri­tory. Ac­cord­ing to the bank, unem­ploy­ment is now over 50 per­cent and over 70 per­cent among Gaza’s youth.

“A com­bi­na­tion of war, iso­la­tion, and in­ter­nal ri­val­ries has left Gaza in a crip­pling eco­nomic state and ex­ac­er­bated the hu­man dis­tress,” said Ma­rina Wes, the World Bank’s direc­tor for the re­gion. “In­creased frus­tra­tion is feed­ing into the in­creased ten­sions that have al­ready started spilling over into un­rest and set­ting back the hu­man de­vel­op­ment of the re­gion’s large youth pop­u­la­tion,” she added.

Since 2007, the Gaza Strip has been un­der a crip­pling Is­raeli and Egyp­tian block­ade that has gut­ted its econ­omy and de­prived its roughly 2 mil­lion in­hab­i­tants of many vi­tal com­modi­ties, in­clud­ing food, fuel and medicine. In the long-em­bar­goed en­clave, the hu­man­i­tar­ian sit­u­a­tion has got­ten worse each day. Is­rael’s long-last­ing block­ade of the Gaza Strip has cre­ated chronic short­ages in Pales­tinian health fa­cil­i­ties. The hu­man­i­tar­ian sit­u­a­tion in the oc­cu­pied Pales­tinian ter­ri­to­ries is de­te­ri­o­rat­ing fur­ther as hos­pi­tals strug­gle to cope with high ca­su­al­ties since protests on the Gaza-Is­rael bor­der be­gan on March 30.

Pales­tini­ans have been protest­ing at least weekly along the Gaza bor­der in what they call the “Great March of Re­turn.” Protesters are de­mand­ing an end to the block­ade and for Pales­tinian refugees to be al­lowed to re­turn to homes their fam­i­lies fled in the 1948 war sur­round­ing Is­rael’s creation. Fri­day’s protests were big­ger than those in re­cent weeks. At least 198 Pales­tini­ans have been killed since the protests be­gan, while one Is­raeli soldier has been shot dead over the same pe­riod. Is­rael was crit­i­cized by a U.N. hu­man rights body for its killing of protesters in Gaza and treat­ment of Pales­tini­ans, declar­ing it a war crime un­der the Statute of Rome. The high ca­su­alty toll trig­gered a diplo­matic back­lash against Is­rael and new charges of ex­ces­sive use of force against un­armed protesters.

An el­derly Pales­tinian man sits at his house in the south­ern Gaza Strip, Oct. 11.

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