Palestinian workers in the Gaza Strip demonstrate on the International Workers' Day to protest unemployment and poverty. (Xinhua)
GAZA, May 1 (Xinhua) -- Hundreds of Palestinian workers in the Gaza Strip participated Tuesday in a demonstration marking the International Workers' Day, protesting their dire economic conditions caused by high unemployment rates.
The protest was organized as part of the anti-Israel six-week mass rallies that have started on March 30 along the Gaza-Israel borders.
The demonstrators raised banners calling for lifting the Israeli siege imposed on the Gaza Strip since 2007 and improving their living conditions in light of unprecedented unemployment and poverty rates.
"Gaza workers have been suffering for more than a decade and nobody cared to solve our problem of being unemployed," 55-year-old worker Ahmed Abed complained.
Abed, a father of nine, said he was unable to provide his family with the basic needs due to the lack of job opportunities and the severe deterioration of the economic situation in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
Meanwhile, Mohammed al-Masri, a 33-year-old worker said workers in the Gaza Strip have been totally ignored and abandoned.
Al-Masri called for international intervention to save the workers of Gaza and provide them with jobs and a decent life, not to leave dependent on humanitarian aid from local and international NGOs.
The demonstration was organized by the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, which warned on the occasion of International Workers' Day of "unprecedented humanitarian disaster" suffered by workers in the Gaza Strip.
"May Day is celebrated today while there are more 250,000 workers suffering from unemployment in Gaza. This is a serious humanitarian disaster," Sami al-Amassi, head of the federation, said during the protest.
Al-Amassi warned of the continued deterioration of the economic situation in the Gaza Strip and its repercussions on the workers and their worsening humanitarian conditions.
He also stressed the need to lift the Israeli blockade, adding that all parties related to the Palestinian issue should shoulder responsibilities to stop the economic deterioration in the seaside territory.
The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) released a report on Monday. The unemployment in Gaza Strip reached 43.9 percent compared with 17.9 percent in the West Bank.
Another report issued by the Gaza Chamber of Commerce and Industry warned that the Gaza Strip is unable to create new jobs in light of the high poverty and unemployment rates among its population.
The private sector in Gaza is unable to provide any new job opportunities while there are no new jobs in the public sector in light of the continued internal political division and the failure to achieve national reconciliation, Maher al-Tabaa, media official in the Gaza Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said in a statement.
According to al-Tabaa, urgent solutions must be found to solve the problem of unemployment in the Gaza Strip and to start the development of emergency relief programs for workers and plans for the rehabilitation of Palestinian manpower.
He also urged for opening the Arab labor markets for Palestinian workers so that workers can be employed within a specific mechanism.
Gaza has been placed under a tight Israeli blockade since Islamic Hamas movement seized the territory by force after routing forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas in 2007.
The blockade has pushed Gaza's 2 million populations deeper into poverty as economists in Gaza point out that extreme poverty hit 53 percent in 2017 compared with 37 percent in 2011.
A recent World Bank report has also said the Gaza Strip ranks third across the Arab region in terms of poverty rates after Sudan and Yemen.