Palestinian workers work at the Unipal 2000 Factory in the east of Gaza City, on March 29, 2020. A clothing factory in the Gaza Strip has changed its production lines to produce protective equipment, such as medical face masks and protective suits, for Israeli markets amid the COVID-19 outbreak. (Photo by Rizek Abdeljawad/Xinhua)
by Sanaa Kamal
RAMALLAH, March 29 (Xinhua) -- A clothing factory in the Gaza Strip has changed its production lines to produce protective equipment, such as medical facemasks and protective suits, for Israeli markets amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Unipal 2000 Factory, which was established in 1999 in the Karni industrial area in the east of Gaza city, has already produced clothes for Israeli markets such as Tel Aviv and Ashkelon.
Nabil al-Bawab, the factory's owner, told Xinhua that he has changed his production lines to produce protective gear because of the increased demand for medical masks and protective suits.
"We find innovative solutions to increase our production by improving our working around the clock," the 59-year-old man said, adding that his factory produces about 30,000 masks and 1,000 protective suits per day.
Most products of the factory are marketed in Israeli stores, as well as in the international ones through contracts with Israeli commercial companies, said al-Bawab.
"I am not caring about the identity of the stores," al-Bawab said, adding that "the pandemic does not differentiate between Muslims, Jews, Christians or any other religion in the world."
For al-Bawab, the most important thing is how to increase the job opportunities for the Palestinian workers in the coastal enclave.
"People here live under the poverty line, and they need to earn more money to live in a stable level," said al-Bawab, adding that "this is a good chance for the workers to earn more money."
The factory's owner makes sure that he will market his production in the local markets if the situation is required, especially in light of the spread of the coronavirus.
Israel has imposed a tight blockade on the Gaza Strip since Hamas seized it in 2007.
A Gaza-based committee resisting the Israeli blockade has warned in January that Israel's embargo has led to a severe humanitarian deterioration in all aspects of life in Gaza.
Inside the factory of 2,400 square meters, there are about 840 workers with 40 percent of women, working on daily shifts.
Israa al-Said, 20, from the Gaza city, works for at least 12 hours per day to sew medical masks.
The young lady, who is financially supporting her family of eight members, told Xinhua that "it is a great chance for me to earn more money," adding that "there are no jobs in Gaza."
Meanwhile, Abdul Allah al-Bawab, another worker, expressed his happiness to manufacture the protective suits and medical masks for the people to avoid the virus.
The 26-year-old man said that "it is not safe wherever, but we should hold our responsibilities and work more and more to earn money for our families."