A bitter reality for Palestinian workers amid record rates of poverty and unemployment

Palestinian workers in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank are suffering from a bitter reality that coincides with International Labor Day, which is celebrated on Saturday around the world.

World workers celebrate every year on May 1, International Workers' Day, so that annual celebrations are held in countries in their honor, and it is an official holiday in most countries.

While the occasion is resolved in the Palestinian territories, with the continuation of the Israeli blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip, which has been inhabited by nearly 2 million people for more than 15 years, accompanied by difficult economic and social conditions and the spread of the Coronavirus disease "Covid-19".

The head of the Palestine Trade Union Federation in Gaza, Sami Al-Amsi, said that the Gaza workers on their Eid "mourn their grief and forget the banners of joy due to record rates of poverty and unemployment."

Al-Amsi said in a statement, by the way, that Xinhua News Agency received a copy of, that the unemployment rate among workers in Gaza has reached nearly 75 percent, indicating that the number of unemployed has exceeded a quarter of a million workers.

Gaza workers suffered record losses and a significant decrease in their wages as a result of the Coronavirus disease crisis, according to Al-Amsi, who called for urgent government compensation for them and international support to reduce unemployment rates.

The Gaza Strip recorded the first cases of the new Coronavirus disease on March 22, 2020 for those returning from abroad through the Rafah land crossing, which raised great concerns among the population, as the sector lacks the minimum requirements to confront the disease due to the Israeli blockade.

The head of the Palestinian Popular Committee to Confront the Siege on Gaza, Jamal Al-Khudari, said that the living and economic conditions in Gaza "are getting more difficult and exacerbated with the continuation of the siege and the repercussions of the Corona crisis."

In a statement received by (Xinhua) a copy of it, Al-Khudari criticized "the absence of realistic practical solutions and the international community's disregard for the catastrophic humanitarian situation" experienced by the 2 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Al-Khudari calls on the World Federation of Workers and Arab and Islamic countries to contribute to the relief of workers in Palestine in general and the besieged Gaza Strip in particular.

Israel has imposed a tight blockade on the Gaza Strip since mid-2007, and in addition to the blockade, Israel launched three wars on Gaza in 2008, 2012 and 2014, which left thousands dead and wounded, in addition to thousands of mentally ill patients as a result of the psychological pressures they were subjected to.

The successive years of the Israeli blockade have made the unemployment rate among the population of the Gaza Strip among the highest in the world, as the World Bank has previously announced in multiple reports.

Maher Tabbaa, a media official in the Gaza Industry Chamber and Commerce, said that the coastal strip suffers from a "crazy" rise in unemployment rates due to the Palestinian division and its repercussions by imposing the Israeli blockade.

"The private sector in Gaza has become unable to provide any new job opportunities due to the tightening of the blockade and the decrease in productivity in all economic activities," al-Tabba'a highlights in a statement received by (Xinhua).

And he warns that the Corona crisis has deepened the economic crises in Gaza due to the suspension of the productive wheel in some economic activities and their decline in varying proportions in various activities.

According to al-Tabbaa, more than 45,000 day laborers in all economic sectors were unemployed during the Corona crisis, in addition to the fact that the owners of the facilities suffered heavy material losses.

On International Labor Day, trade union calls are escalating to find radical solutions to the issue of workers and high unemployment after 15 years of division and Israeli blockade and successive wars, in addition to developing plans to rehabilitate Palestinian workers.

By the way, the Central Bureau of Statistics revealed in a report that the unemployment rate in Palestine rose to 26 percent in 2020, compared to about 25 percent in the previous year.

The report noted that the unemployment rate among youth in Palestine is 39 percent, amid a wide gap between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Figures show that 24 of the youth in the West Bank are unemployed, compared to 67% in the Gaza Strip.

In the context, Palestinian Labor Minister Nasri Abu Jaish told reporters in Ramallah that the working class in the Palestinian territories "suffered" from the Coronavirus disease.

Abu Jaish highlighted the difficult reality for workers in Palestine due to the repercussions of the continued Israeli occupation, "which hinders Palestinian development and the provision of job opportunities."

He pointed out that Israel "practices abuse of the right of its Palestinian workers, both at the crossings, and does not recognize their rights by providing treatment."

For his part, Secretary-General of the Palestine Trade Union Federation, Shaher Saad, said that the Corona crisis has caused the end of the work of 155,000 Palestinian workers in the private sector in the West Bank since the outbreak of the disease in March 2020.

Saad revealed in a press release that Palestinian workers, whether inside Israel or the Palestinian territories, suffered losses due to the crisis that continues to hit the labor market, amounting to more than 1.5 billion Israeli shekels (one dollar = 3.40).

Saad called on Palestinian businessmen abroad to invest in the Palestinian lands in order to employ workers, alleviate unemployment, and absorb workers who work in Israel.


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