Gaza marks dark Eid in shadow of Israel’s war

In depth: Palestinians in Gaza are experiencing a crippling economic crisis after Israel’s war in May, with Eid al-Adha celebrations marred by empty stores, poor sales and unaffordable prices.

As Muslims around the world celebrate Eid al-Adha, it is a grim affair in Gaza.

Palestinians in the stranded coastal enclave are facing a crippling economic crisis following Israel’s deadly war in May, with tightened restrictions resulting in shortages of goods ahead of the four-day festival.

While Israeli authorities allowed clothing, fabrics and food industry items to enter Gaza last week, the raw materials desperately needed to rebuild war-damaged infrastructure have been banned as Gazans are surrounded by devastation.

Many of these prohibited materials such as cement and iron are defined as dual-use goods which Israel believes could be used for both civilian and military purposes.

The 11 days of fighting in May damaged or destroyed more than 16,000 Palestinian homes, 58 schools, nine hospitals and 19 clinics. More than 256 people were killed, including 66 children.

“Palestinians in the stranded coastal enclave face crippling economic crisis following Israel’s deadly war in May”

Empty stores and low sales

Gaza traders say they are suffering from a record drop in sales amid Gaza’s tragic economic situation. The 14-year blockade of Israel and Egypt, which was tightened following the Israeli bombardment of Gaza in May, has led to a protracted humanitarian crisis.

Alaa Hamed, 26, owner of a small clothing store in Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza, says residents were less likely to buy clothes for Eid even before the army Israeli allowed entry of new articles last Thursday.

“I thought the scarcity of clothes available in my store was the main reason for the low sales,” he said. The New Arabic.

Palestinians shop before the Eid al-Adha festival in Gaza City on July 17, 2021. [Getty]

“But even when the clothes were allowed in a few days before Eid my shop remained empty, and if there were any customers I could count them because there were fewer than you might imagine, unlike previous Eids, “he said.

Markets in Gaza are generally crowded during Eid celebrations, with people shopping for clothes, accessories, candy and other gifts, but this Eid has seen a marked deterioration for sellers in Gaza, who were hoping to collect some money. part of the losses caused by Covid-19 and Israel. brutal war.

“Most of the residents who walked into my store didn’t buy anything at all. I sold five pieces a day, but the rest of the people looked at the clothes and their prices and left without buying anything, ”he said.

“The war happened two or three days before Eid al-Fitr, depriving us of celebrations, but this time the lack of sales prevented us from making a profit,” Hamed added.

Unaffordable prices

After goods were recently allowed into Gaza, Maha Saher, 28, went shopping to buy new clothes for her two daughters, Sara and Rama, trying to find items at a decent price.

“Most stores in Gaza did not have any of the new products allowed in a few days before Eid. The products available are not of high quality despite their high price,” she said, adding that traders had tried to make up for some of their losses during the year.

Maha was forced to buy expensive clothes for her children while her husband, who works as a photojournalist, receives only 50% of her total monthly salary, estimated at $ 250, which barely covers their basic needs.

“I didn’t want to buy anything from them because of the unbearable prices, but I couldn’t because Sara cried when she heard about it,” she said. “She was happy today because she was wearing new clothes to celebrate Eid.”

“The war happened two or three days before Eid al-Fitr was held, depriving us of celebrations, but this time the lack of sales prevented us from making a profit.”

Due to restrictions on the entry of goods, Gazans suffer from a shortage of essential electrical appliances, including fans and air coolers in the middle of the hot summer. Seham Abed, 60, searched stores in Gaza for fans, but found only one.

“Three days ago my husband and daughter went to over 10 stores and businesses to ask for fans, but they were empty due to the passage being closed,” she said.

Abed wanted at least two more fans for his loved ones to visit him on Eid to cool off amid the summer heat and widespread power cuts.

“After days of searching my husband finally found one, but the price had doubled,” she said.

Significant losses for livestock traders

Over the past ten days, Gaza’s cattle traders had prepared to sell most of their sheep, cattle, calves and other animals for Eid-al-Adha. However, sales were well below what they had expected due to the economic crisis in Gaza.

Hasan al-Masri, owner of a cattle warehouse in Beit Lahia, only sold 12 animals out of a total of 25, although their prices were reduced by 15%.

Each year, al-Masri’s farm is normally filled with more than 40 cattle and sheep for this occasion. This year was completely different.

“I couldn’t sell them all because of the lack of purchasing power of the people of Gaza, even though they are cheaper than before,” al-Masri said. “I used to sell sheep for around $ 350 in previous years, whereas we sold it for $ 300 this year.”

Palestinians gather animals at a cattle market before Eid al-Adha in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip. [Getty]

Al-Masri says he had to lower his prices to make sure he made enough profit to cover the debts he incurred to pay for feed and medicine.

But the fall in livestock prices caused “significant losses” to al-Masri as he could not take advantage of the reduced selling prices, which prevented him from supporting his family.

“I have two sons and a daughter who are studying at university. And I have to cover their university fees to enroll in the classes for the next semester which will start in a month,” he said.

“University fees are unaffordable, and I don’t know how to provide for them.”

“The Israeli occupation prevented me from working, and now they have prevented me from receiving help”

Waiting for help

After Israel’s war, many poor families relied on Qatari financial aid to spend before the Eid holidays. Ibrahim Fayyad, 33, is one of them.

Fayyad is the father of five children and lives in Beit Hanoun. He used to work in construction and was paid $ 300 a month, but is now unemployed.

The ban on entry of raw materials into Gaza affected nearly 90 percent of factories, which in turn laid off most of their workers.

He relied on outside help, estimated at around $ 100, to support his family on Eid day, but Israel’s objections to the distribution of funds delayed payments.

“I couldn’t get help for two months so I couldn’t buy new clothes for my children to celebrate Eid like other children in Gaza,” said Fayyad.

“I know this help was insufficient for my family, but this amount in my current situation is better than nothing,” he said.

“The Israeli occupation prevented me from working, and now they have prevented me from receiving help.”

Khuloud Rabah Sulaiman is a Gaza-based writer for WeAreNotNumbers.org.


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