‘Eased’ Blockade Continues to ‘Strangle’ Gazan Economy

The Gaza “Freedom Flotilla” of May 31 brought the world’s attention to the collective punishment the people of Gaza are going through.  But despite the much-heralded Israeli “easing” of the siege in response to a furious world, the situation in Gaza remain much the same, and even worse for businesses there.

Donald Macintyre of the Independent (UK) tells the story of the Abu Dan garment factory.  The Abu Dan’s can’t export their clothes to Israel because of the Israeli blockade of Gaza.  This has been the situation for many businesses in Gaza since 2007, when the full blown air, sea and land closure was imposed on the Strip.   But now, the garment factory is doing worse than it has been because of the flooding of the local market with cheap Israeli goods, a process that has been going on since the so-called “easing” of the blockade:

In a series of intensive negotiations with the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, Quartet envoy Tony Blair managed to secure a tangible change of policy. Israel agreed to allow imports to Gaza of all goods other than those on a list of items – notably cement and other building materials deemed security risks if appropriated for military purposes by Hamas – rulers of this territory of 1.5 million people.

True, Karni remained closed, and the increase in imports to Gaza only reached below 40 per cent of pre- siege levels. But the truckloads increased to around 250 a day, and previously banned consumer goods, from chocolate to children’s toys, from refrigerators to bathtaps, from window glass to cars, have flowed into Gaza. This was good news for those Gaza consumers who can afford them, for Israeli goods are at once cheaper and better than those that were previously smuggled through tunnels from Egypt. Moreover, some unbanned raw materials including cloth for the imploded garment industry slowly began to move into the Strip, allowing some production to restart – albeit at a fraction of pre-2007 levels.

Yet for companies like the Abu Dans’ – whose decades-old, $1.5m factory was the biggest clothing enterprise in Gaza – the easing of the embargo had a perverse effect. With the ban on exports still in force, the family was now hard pressed even to sell to the local market, because of its flooding by – often Chinese made – cheap clothing coming through Israel. “They talk about easing the embargo but that means allowing in finished goods which we cannot compete with. Believe me, things are worse for us now than before it happened,” says Mr Abu Dan.

In other words, what Senator Chuck Schumer of New York approvingly called the Israeli blockade–economic strangulation–remains in place.

6 responses to “‘Eased’ Blockade Continues to ‘Strangle’ Gazan Economy

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention ‘Eased’ Blockade Continues to ‘Strangle’ Gazan Economy | Alex Kane -- Topsy.com

  2. Interesting article Alex, reminded me a lot of the history of Taybeh beer. I am not sure if you have ever been to the West Bank, but if you get a chance go to Taybeh and talk to the owner of the Taybeh brewery. If you do, Nadim will tell you about the how the Second Intifada nearly ruined the brewery. In a nutshell, the beer was selling like mad pre-Intifada (it was established after Oslo), but during the Intifada Israel disallowed exports to Israel and, eventually, to the rest of the West Bank and Gaza. By confining sale of the beer to only the small town, Israel nearly wrecked the brewery.

    Nadim was forced to borrow money from many relatives in the US to keep up with payments and was forced to lay off workers. It is only in the last year that the brewery has become profitable again. And Nadim is still paying back relatives.

    Certainly the circumstances are different, but it is yet another example of private enterprises paying a stiff cost for Israeli-imposed limitations.

    • Hey Chris,

      I have never been to the West Bank, although I will be visiting this January (stay tuned for a post on that!).

      Thanks for the information. I’m going to post it as a separate post here. I think it’s important enough to merit that🙂.

      • Sounds good Alex. I am planning on going back to Taybeh to do a more complete profile on Nadim as well. I’ll let you know when I get to that.

  3. Pingback: ‘Eased’ blockade continues to ‘strangle’ Gazan economy

  4. Pingback: Israeli Crushing of Economy Not Limited to Gaza | Alex Kane

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