Jobless Gaza


OnIslam & News Agencies|Wednesday, 15 June 2011 09:19
Gaza, unemployment, UN

The report found that unemployment rates in Gaza reached 45.2%.

GAZA CITY – Five years under a crippling Israeli blockade, the impoverished Gaza Strip is suffering one of the world’s highest unemployment rates, a UN report has revealed.

“These are disturbing trends,” Chris Gunnes, spokesman of the UN refugees agency UNRWA, said, according to Ma’an news agency.

“And the refugees, which make up two thirds of Gaza’s 1.5 million population were the worst hit in the period covered in this report.”

The report found that unemployment rates in Gaza, home to 1.6 million Palestinians, reached 45.2%.

It also found that real wages had fallen 34.5 percent since the first half of 2006, when Israel blockaded the impoverished enclave after Hamas won the Palestinian legislative elections.

“It is hard to understand the logic of a man-made policy which deliberately impoverishes so many and condemns hundreds of thousands of potentially productive people to a life of destitution,” Gunness said.

Israel has clamped a severe blockade on Gaza since Hamas was voted to power in Gaza in 2006 and the capture of an Israeli soldier in a cross-border raid.

The siege was further tightened after Hamas seized control of the strip in 2007, shutting all Gaza’s crossings.

In 2008, Israel launched a three-week deadly assault in Gaza, killing more than 1,400 people and injured thousands.

The offensive wrecked havoc on the infrastructure of the densely-populated enclave, leaving tens of thousands of homes and other buildings in ruins.

Following the ouster of Egypt’s president Hosni Mubarak, Cairo has decided to open the Rafah crossing, Gaza’s only gateway to the outside world, to help ease the siege on the Gazans.

Israeli Failure

The UN report said that the crippling Israeli siege has failed to weaken the Hamas government in Gaza.

“If the aim of the blockade policy was to weaken the Hamas administration, the public employment numbers suggest this has failed,” said Gunness.

“Our research indicates that since 2007, Hamas has been able to increase public employment by about one fifth.”

The UNRWA report found that the Israeli blockade has caused the private sector jobs to disappear.

While private businesses were forced to cut nearly 8,000 jobs in the second half of 2010, the Hamas-dominated public sector grew by nearly 3% over the same period.

“Even more striking, in what should have been a relatively good year for the Gaza private sector with the supposed easing of the blockade, the public sector generated 70% of all net job growth as between second-half 2009 and second-half 2010.”

UNRWA, however, said that the number of “abject poor” it was assisting, those earning less than $1.60 a day, had tripled to 300,000 people since the Israeli siege was imposed.

UNRWA accused Israel of pursuing a policy of collective punishment against Gaza population.

“But it has certainly been highly successful in punishing some of the poorest of the poor in the Middle East region.”

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