Gaza - Economy

Economy

The major agricultural products are strawberries, citrus, dates, olives, flowers, and various vegetables. Pollution and high demand for water have reduced the productive capacity of farms in the Gaza Strip. Small-scale industries include the production of plastics, construction materials, textiles, furniture, pottery, tiles, copperware, and carpets. Since the Oslo Accords, thousands of residents have been employed in government ministries and security services, UNRWA and international organizations. Minor industries include textiles and food processing. A variety of wares are sold in Gaza's street bazaars, including carpets, pottery, wicker furniture, and cotton clothing. The upscale Gaza Mall opened in July 2010.

Many Gazans worked in the Israeli service industry when the border was open, but after Israel's 2005 disengagement from the Gaza Strip, this source of jobs disappeared.

A report by human rights and development groups published in 2008 stated that Gaza had suffered a long term pattern of economic stagnation and dire development indicators, the severity which was increased exponentially by the Israeli blockade. The report cited a number of economic indicators to illustrate the point: In 2008, 95% of Gaza's industrial operations were suspended due to lack of access inputs for production and export problems. In 2009, unemployment in Gaza was close to 40%. The private sector which generates 53% of all jobs in Gaza was devastated and businesses went bankrupt. In June 2005, 3,900 factories in Gaza employed 35,000 people, by December 2007, only 1,700 were still employed. The construction industry was paralyzed with tens of thousands of laborers out of work. The agriculture sector was hard hit, affecting nearly 40,000 workers dependent on cash crops.

Gaza's food prices rose during the blockade, with wheat flour going up 34%, rice up 21%, and baby powder up 30%. In 2007, households spent an average of 62% of their total income on food, compared to 37% in 2004. In less than a decade, the number of families depending on UNRWA food aid increased tenfold. In 2008, 80% of the population relied on humanitarian aid in 2008 compared to 63% in 2006. According to a report by OXFAM in 2009, Gaza suffered from a serious shortage of housing, educational facilities, health facilities and infrastructure, along with an inadequate sewage system that contributed to hygiene and public health problems.

Following a significant easing of the closure policy in 2010, the economy of Gaza began to see a substantial recovery from anemic levels during the height of the blockade. The economy of Gaza grew by 8% in the first 11 months of 2010. Economic activity is largely supported by foreign aid donations. There are a number of hotels in Gaza, including the Palestine, Grand Palace, Adam, al-Amal, al-Quds, Cliff, al-Deira and Marna House. All, except the Palestine Hotel, are located along in the coastal Rimal district. The United Nations (UN) has a beach club on the same street. Gaza is not a frequent destination for tourists, and most foreigners who stay in hotels are journalists, aid workers, UN and Red Cross personnel. Upmarket hotels include the al-Quds and the al-Deira Hotel.

In 2012, unemployment dropped to 25 percent.

In November 2012, a report by the Palestinian Chamber of Commerce called for the Gaza Strip to be recognized as an economic disaster area after it concluded that the Israeli Operation Pillar of Defense caused approximately $300 million in economic damage.

Read more about this topic:  Gaza

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