No Eid al-Adha joy for Palestinians in Gaza

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Palestinian Muslims buy sacrificial animals from an animal market ahead of Eid al-Adha, also called as Feast of the Sacrifice, the second of two religious holidays celebrated by Muslims worldwide each year, in Khan Yunis, Gaza on October 1, 2014. (Photo: Anadolu- Abed Rahim Khatib)

Published Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday is fast approaching, but the prospect of a merry feast brings Mahmoud Shetat, a Palestinian child who lives in the devastated Gaza Strip, little joy.

Shetat's father lost his job at a Gaza factory that was totally destroyed by Israel's recent onslaught on the embattled coastal enclave.

This means that 11-year-old Shetat will not have the money to buy the nice pair of pants and shirt he saw in a local shop a few days ago.

"I couldn't wait for Eid to come so I could buy new clothes," Shetat said. "We haven't bought clothes all year because my father couldn't afford it."

Shetat is sorry he can't buy new clothes like some of his friends and relatives, saying he doesn't even plan to leave his house for the four-day feast.

According to Palestinian figures, Israel's recent war on the strip destroyed 500 facilities across the territory, costing some $3 billion.

The Gaza Labor Union recently said that the war had raised the number of Gaza's unemployed to some 200,000, upon whom 900,000 other people depend.

According to the union, 30,000 Gazans lost their jobs as a direct result of the recent conflict, which only ended when Israeli army and Palestinian resistance factions signed an August 26 cease-fire agreement.

Gaza civil servants are likely to receive their salaries before the upcoming Eid al-Adha holiday, a spokesman for the civil servants' union said Monday.

Khalil Zayyan told Ma'an that there have been "positive indications, but we are waiting for an official announcement from the government."

Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said Saturday that an unnamed international body is willing to pay the salaries of civil servants in Gaza who were employed by the former Hamas-run government in the Strip.

He did not provide further details.

Since the new government was officially sworn in in June, Hamas has demanded it take responsibility for paying its 45,000 employees, 27,000 of whom are civil servants.

But the unity government has been noncommittal, and earlier this month Hamdallah said he was under pressure from the international community not to pay Hamas employees' salaries.
According to trader Essam al-Sawafiri, the local market is suffering an "unprecedented recession."

The owner of a clothing shop, al-Sawafiri says the economic situation is getting worse day by day.

"There is no demand for clothes," he complained. "We are suffering from a recession that has paralyzed some 90 percent of the strip's economic activity."

He attributes the recession to Israel's seven-year-old blockade of the coastal territory and the new unity government's failure to pay Gaza's Hamas-employed civil servants.

"This is the worst year we have ever seen," al-Sawafiri said. "There are many people in the market, but few are buying anything."

The Palestinian Ministry of Social Affairs recently warned of an imminent rise in Gaza's poverty rate.

The ministry said that the number of poor families in Gaza could double – from 60,000 to 120,000 – as an immediate result of Israel's onslaught.

Ever since Hamas – which Israel deems a "terrorist" organization – swept Palestinian legislative polls in 2006, Israel has imposed a tight land-and-sea blockade on the Gaza Strip.



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