[News] Touring the devastated industrial zones of Gaza
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
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