[News] Touring the devastated industrial zones of Gaza

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Sun Aug 17 15:52:54 EDT 2014

*Touring the devastated industrial zones of Gaza*

Published today (updated) 17/08/2014 22:32

*By Martin Lejeune 

On the night of the July 27, the first day of the Muslim Eid-Al-Fitr 
festival following the fasting month of Ramadan, the Israeli air force 
dropped three bombs on Al-Hurani's carpentry workshop. Each of the three 
bombs had an explosive force of 250 pounds.

Al-Hurani pointed towards the charred left overs of the tables, 
armchairs and beds, "all designed according to the desires of each 
individual customer, processed with the best woods and decorated with 
passion, as our customers expect from us," he told Ma'an.

The carpentry of the Al-Hurani family is well-known across the northern 
Gaza Strip city of Jabaliya, and is respected throughout the Gaza Strip 
for its precise designs. In addition to family members, Al-Hurani 
employed 25 workers in his workshop before the Israeli assault.

"Due to the total destruction of our plant everyone had to be dismissed 
immediately and I do not know how to feed my family anymore. We don't 
know how to move on from here," he said.

The family possesses no savings for the construction of a new workshop 
and they believe there is no hope for obtaining any kind of compensation 
for the estimated $450,000 in damages they have suffered.

Abu Eida, one of the largest construction companies in the Gaza Strip, 
is headquartered in the industrial area east of Jabaliya that the air 
force also dropped several 250 pound bombs on Aug. 2.

Abed Rabou Abu Eida, CEO of the construction company, told Ma'an he was 
not aware of the exact number of bombs being dropped.

An on-site inspection of the premises, however, revealed the extent of 
the destruction: Three large buildings, which had all been reinforced by 
concrete, the warehouse containing cement and bricks, as well as the 
construction machinery have all been flattened.

Abu Eida estimates the cost of the total damage to be around $7.5 
million. As a result of the attack, he had to dismiss all of his 70 
permanent workers because the company could no longer operate. Hundreds 
of part-time workers that deal with Abu-Eida on a sporadic basis are 
also out of work.

"In 2008 and 2012 the factory premises were already completely destroyed 
by the Israeli air force and our company has not received any kind of 
compensation, due to the law passed in 2007," Abu Eida said, referring 
to an Israeli law that defined Gaza as enemy territory and thus its 
residents ineligible for compensation through civil suits.

"This time we have no more money to rebuild our company a third time."

*'Where can we get new cows from?'*

At the end of Abu Khayr street in the Jabaliya industrial area sits the 
Al-Fayoumi family farm. The farm once owned 150 cows and sold milk twice 
a day to dairy factories.

130 of the cows were killed in their stables during the Israeli bombing 
on Aug. 2, according to workers on the farm.

During a visit to the ruined courtyard on August 13, workers were still 
trying to collect and burn the remaining corpses. The terrible smell of 
the semi-decomposed carcasses of cattle lay side by side with charred 
hens when Ma'an visited.

A swarm of flies covered the corpses, trying to get its share.

"Where can the Al-Fayoumis get new cows from?" asked a worker who did 
not want to give his name. "The borders to Gaza are closed and the 
smuggling tunnels destroyed."

Wael Al-Wadia, owner of the Saraio candy factory in the same area, 
showed Ma'an the remains of his completely ruined factory buildings, 
where ice cream, biscuits, and cakes were once made.

"I had 100 workers on permanent contracts. 100 workers who have fed 100 
families and now have no income," al-Wadia said. The factory produced 
five tons of sweets on a daily basis, he said. Now, everything is gone.

Al-Qadia estimated that it would cost him $7 million to purchase the 
same equipment again, which he had initially brought to Gaza from Italy.

"We have made the best biscuits in the Gaza Strip. Every market in Gaza 
sold our products. Our biscuits were as good as the Biscotti's from 
Italy," he told Ma'an.

*Israel has 'systematically destroyed' Gaza economy *

But it was not only factories, hospitals, schools, farms, agricultural 
land, and the famous orange groves of Beit Hanoun that were bombed 
during the worst of the Israeli assault between July 6 and Aug. 3.

Gaza's sole power station, its largest mosques, and the building of the 
popular TV station Al-Quds were also hit, while tens of thousands of 
private homes were destroyed or severely damaged.

Muhsen Abu Ramadan, Director of the Arab Center for Agricultural 
Economic Development in Gaza, told Ma'an that the damage to the besieged 
coastal enclave's economy, however, predates the recent Israeli assault.

"The economic crisis began long before the aggression, and is a result 
of the eight years lasting blockade of Gaza," he said.

Abu Ramadan estimates that even before the beginning of the Israeli 
attacks in July, 40 percent of the labor force was unemployed, 30 
percent lived below the poverty line, 57 percent were at risk of 
malnutrition, and 70 percent received food parcels from the United 
Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East 
or other organizations.

"These numbers have increased dramatically since the bombings," said Abu 

He also said that Israeli army completely destroyed 220 factories in the 
campaign, while hundreds more suffered partial damage.

Abu Ramadan estimates the cost of destruction of agricultural land at 
around $200 million and the amount of the total costs to the economy at 
several billion dollars.

"Gaza would need five years to rebuild the destroyed infrastructure," he 

But given the current economic conditions caused by the occupation and 
the blockade of Gaza, he estimated that reconstruction will take at 
least ten years.

"We have the right to import building materials and this right must be 
given to us immediately, especially with the help of the international 
community. Otherwise, we will not be able to rebuild our destroyed 
houses and factories," Abu Ramadan added.

Tens of thousands have joined the ranks of the unemployed since the 
imposition of the harsh Israeli blockade in 2007, and given the scale of 
the damage suffered during the massive Israeli assault, of those who 
were still employed in industry and agriculture in July it is unlikely 
that more than a few thousand are still working in either sector. A few 
thousand out of 1.8 million people.

"Israel is not only attacking civilians and their homes, but also 
systematically destroyed the economy of the Gaza Strip in order to make 
people dependent on emergency aid," Abu Ramadan argued.

"Now that almost the entire economy is destroyed, people can no longer 
work, thus cutting their purchasing power dramatically. Now youth wants 
to emigrate at even younger ages than before. Due to the emigration of 
young skilled workers the economy is becoming even weaker."

"Israel has managed to transform a functioning economy into a third 
world country through eight years of embargo and three assaults in five 
years. Without ending the embargo, it is impossible to break out of this 
vicious cycle ourselves," Abu Ramadan added.

/Martin Lejeune is a German journalist based in Gaza. Follow him on 
*twitter <https://twitter.com/Martin_Lejeune>*/
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