GAZA (Reuters) – The man who makes crisps, chocolate and vanilla snacks for Gaza had just finished explaining how his business was going through the worst economic crisis of his life when the lights went out, shutting down his factory. Again.
Wael Al-Wadiya has been running his food manufacturing business since 1985 – in a Gaza Strip that was very different from the one in which he and two million other Palestinians now live.
Settlers - Gaza - Islamist - Militant - Group
Back then Israeli settlers were still in Gaza, the Islamist militant group Hamas did not yet exist, and Palestinians were still two years away from the first of the uprisings against Israeli military occupation that introduced the word ‘Intifada’ to the world.
Sitting in a slowly declining industrial estate near the fortified border with Israel, the 51-year-old confectioner says that Gaza has been brought to a near-standstill by a decade of Israeli-led blockades, and internal Palestinian divisions.
Situation - People - Ability - Minimum - Businesses
“The situation is very miserable. People’s ability to buy has fallen to a minimum, therefore our businesses and businesses in Gaza are suffering as never before,” said Wadiya.
He has cut production by 70 percent and wages by 30 percent. Employees who used to work each day now may work one day in three. “Unless a miracle happens, factories and companies will close down and it will be the real death of the economy,” he said.
Poverty - Gaza - Unemployment - Percent - Palestinian
There has long been poverty in Gaza, but with unemployment now at 43.6 percent, according to the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics, even once-wealthy merchants are defaulting on debts, causing other businesses to collapse, like dominoes.
Many in Gaza blame Israel for the hardships, accusing it of placing an economic blockade on the enclave that has drastically reduced the movement of people and goods.
Gazans - Leaders - Power - Struggle - Hamas
But Gazans also fault their own leaders, complaining of a power struggle between Hamas, the armed group that...
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