Business & Economy

Economic warfare in Gaza

No more lies or twisted tongues. Israel is saying at last what, in the past, it always refused to acknowledge: its war is against the Palestinian population. Until now, in discussions about the separation wall, closures, blockades, house demolition, and other sorts of collective punishment, the State Attorney’s Office lacked the gumption to admit in court that the aim of such measures is to harm civilians. It always came up with convoluted security claims in order to present some vital military necessity for the sake of the War against Terror. Harm to the population was described as a regrettable side effect. Yossi Wolfson analyzes. 

Aida camp residents say wall harming their livelihoods

AIDA REFUGEE CAMP, BETHLEHEM, 31 December (IRIN) - Behind a luxurious five-star hotel and close to Bethlehem, yet unknown to most visitors who converged on nearby Manger Square for the recent Christmas mass, residents of Aida refugee camp — home to nearly 5,000 people — say their lives have been adversely affected by the Israeli restrictions on movement, in particular the barrier built around the city. 

Blair's misguided economic optimism

The Quartet’s Middle East envoy, Tony Blair, wanted to raise $5.6 billion US at the donor conference in Paris in December 2007. Since 1999 the per capita gross domestic product in occupied Palestine has declined by 40 percent. As a result Palestinians are getting poorer and 65 percent live below the poverty line. To give the hard hit economy a boost, Blair came up with a cure of ten “quick impact projects.” The World Bank has another opinion: pouring money into the occupied Palestinian territory will do little to revive the economy unless the occupation is ended. Instead, some of Blair’s proposed projects are firmly rooted in the structure of the occupation. 

Palestinian shepherds' livelihoods in jeopardy

DHAHARIYA, WEST BANK, 2 December (IRIN) - Palestinian herders in the southern part of the West Bank are facing increased poverty due to rising costs of fodder and water, as well as limitations on their access to grazing land, the herders and UN officials said. “Due to global droughts and the rising demand internationally for corn and barley bio-fuels, the prices of corn and barley fodder products have risen dramatically,” said Santiago Ripoll, a food security analyst with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization working in the Hebron area in the southern West Bank. 

Dozens of Palestinians sift through rubbish tips to survive

PSAGOT, WEST BANK, 30 September (IRIN) - For some West Bank Palestinians rubbish has become not only a livelihood but the only method of survival they know. Many dozens of Palestinians across the territory, including children, work at landfill sites, trying to earn a meager living. “This is very hard work here. My hands are all cut up, it smells. But what can I do? There’s no work in Ramallah,” said Muhammad, from al-Bireh, a nearby town. Aged 43, he has worked for the last 30 years — apart from a stint in jail — in the Psagot landfill site, sifting through the rubbish in search of scrap metal. 

UN body: Palestinians under "economic siege"

BRUSSELS, 31 August (IPS) - Poverty in the Palestinian territories has reached “unprecedented levels” because they have been held under an “economic siege” for almost seven years, a United Nations body has found. During 2006 the number of Palestinians living in “deep poverty” almost doubled to more than 1 million. Some 46 percent of public sector employees do not have enough food to meet their basic needs, with 53 percent of households in Gaza reporting that their incomes declined in the last year by more than half. 

Gaza "almost completely" aid-dependent

JERUSALEM, 27 July 2007 (IRIN) - “There is no doubt, Gaza is becoming aid-dependent,” said Liz Sime from CARE International, in light of the continued closure of all crossing points, except for basic food commodities and humanitarian aid. With the borders shut, raw materials cannot get in and finished goods cannot be exported. Factories in the Gaza Strip are folding like dominos and unemployment is soaring. “People hate having to ask for assistance. People want work,” said Sime. “They want aid in the form of job-creation programs.” Such programs may remain a pipe dream if the borders stay shut. 

Economic downturn in Beit Umar and Hebron

The following is a report on a field visit to the Network, Advocate and Resist (NAR) program in Hebron, meeting with several members of the Local Popular Committee (LPC): The purpose of our field visit was to get acquainted with the Network, Advocate and Resist (NAR) work in Hebron. The impact of the Wall/barrier is devastating to the local community. A Palestinian Hydrology Group representative mentioned how they organize resistance events; farmers and landowners talked about their troubles, resulting in modest requests. 

Plight of Workers in Palestinian Territories Has "Worsened Dramatically"

GENEVA, 28 May (IPS) - Workers in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel have suffered another year of drastic decline in living standards and rising poverty, unemployment, social disintegration and political chaos, the ILO said in a new report.The proportion of households below the poverty line increased 26 percent between March 2006 and March 2007, according to the report released Monday, which is based on the findings of high-level missions sent by the ILO in April to Israel and the occupied Arab territories. 

World Bank exposes the blatantly obvious

It should have happened sooner, but at least it has happened now. Israel has been exposed by the august World Bank for its oppressive control of the West Bank. Three weeks before global protests begin against 40 years of Israel’s occupation, the report reveals what every government knows, but not one has been prepared to stop. Effectively, the report challenges the notion of a viable two-state solution under Israel’s current restrictions and illegal land appropriations.