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Palestinians seek permits to work in Israel amid deteriorating economy

 
Gaza, Oct 8 (IANS) Thousands of Palestinians gathered for the second day in a row in front of the headquarters of the Chamber of Commerce in Gaza to apply for permits to work in Israel amid a deteriorating economy.

In 2007, Israel imposed a tight blockade on the coastal enclave, home to more than 2 million people, right after the Hamas forcibly seized it, reports Xinhua news agency.

The blockade has led to the deterioration of the economic situation in the Gaza Strip.

The poverty rate among the Gaza residents has risen to 53 per cent, while the extreme poverty rate has reached 33.8 per cent, according to the latest official statistics issued by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics.

"For more than three years, I could not buy any clothes for my three kids," Mohammed al-Zaharna, a resident from Gaza, told Xinhua.

The 38-year-old driver said he graduated from university in 2009 while his wife graduated in 2010, but they have not found any job to keep their family afloat.

Moen Awwad, a 52-year-old carpenter from Gaza, told Xinhua that he was lucky to work inside Israel 17 years ago.

The father of nine said he built his four-floor house with the money he earned in Israel. "I was taking about $120 a day, but now I make about $200 a month," he added.

Before 2005, Israel allowed the Gazan workers to work inside its cities based on the Paris economic protocol signed between the Israelis and the Palestinians in 1994.

More than 12,000 Gazans worked then in Israel, contributing about 20 per cent of the economy in Gaza, according to Moen Rajab, a Gaza-based economist.

"If Israel allows workers to work inside it again, it will be a step that would achieve the interests of both sides," Rajab said, noting that "Israel needs qualified workers and it will also help the Palestinians, who will be able to overcome poverty and get a decent life".

He added that this will pump money into the markets in the Gaza Strip to achieve the economic recovery there.

--IANS
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