Feature: Gaza traders toil for living amid worsening economic recession

Source: Xinhua| 2018-01-29 01:34:42|Editor: yan
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RAMALLAH, Jan. 28 (Xinhua) -- Palestinian fruits trader Jaber Al-Shanti in Gaza city sufficed with the minimum shipments of import from Israel due to what he says the "severe worsening of the economic recession."

Al-Shanti told Xinhua that the quantities of his imports have been reduced by more than 60 percent compared to the first half of last year due to weak sales.

"Until the first half of 2017, I used to import 60 to 70 tons a day of fruits and vegetables shipments and delivering them easily to the local markets," Al-Shanti said.

"Nowadays, we import less than 80 tons a week and find difficulty to distribute," he added.

"Beside fruits and vegetables, the weak purchasing power has also reached to an unprecedented level," he sighed.

Local officials and economists believe that imports into the key commercial crossing with Israel have fallen sharply in recent months.

Kerem Shalom is one of the Gaza's few lifelines to the outer world and the principal entry point for humanitarian aid.

Gaza's border authority has registered a decline in number of trucks since 2017, Gaza border official Raed Fattouh told Xinhua.

Roughly 1,000 trucks of goods destined for Gaza passed through Kerem Shalom crossing every day in the upper half of last year, but the figure has been declining for the past six months, to the lowest level now," Fattouh said.

"The economic situation in Gaza is on the brink of collapse. All the economic indicators point to this, Manager of the Chamber of Commerce in Gaza Maher al-Tabbaa told Xinhua.

Above all, the unemployment rate has already reached 46 percent. More than a quarter of a million people are without jobs, he added.

Unemployment rises to 46 percent among Gaza's more than 2 million people, 65 percent of whom are poor, he said.

Al-Tabba said the besieged Gaza Strip is heading to a "dark future," which might stir the social and political unrest across the occupied Palestinian territories.

Al-Tabba blamed the exhausted economy on the "repeated" Israeli offensives on Gaza, the closure of the crossings, the delay of reconstruction and the strict Israeli measures taken against Gaza traders in 2017.

Gaza has been placed under a tight Israeli blockade since Islamic Hamas movement seized the territory after routing forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas in 2007.

Last week, hundreds of Palestinian families staged protest in front of the UNDP office in Gaza against the halt of food aid that had been offered by the CHF International.

Economists say that "ordinary" situation got considerably worse last year, after Abbas and Israel implemented a series of punitive measures aimed at forcing Hamas to give up power in Gaza.

Last Thursday, a coalition of Palestinian charities in the Gaza Strip launched a popular campaign entitled "Save Gaza" in light of the deteriorating economic and humanitarian conditions of Gaza.

The coalition coordinator Ahmad al-Kurd announced in a press conference the launch of "Save Gaza" initiative with a view to help the Palestinians living under dire conditions in Gaza.

Al-Kurd said that 80 percent of Gaza's population live in poverty, 65 percent of whom live below the poverty line, while three quarters of the population need urgent relief aid which is no longer available.

"The consequences of the crisis accumulated over the years by the factors of siege, split and marginalization, which are deeply eroding the social fabric of the population of the Gaza Strip," said Omar Shaban, the founder of PalThink for Strategic Studies.