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First Coca-Cola plant opens doors in Gaza

December 1, 2016 at 4:42 pm

Coca-Cola has announced yesterday that it has opened the doors to its first factory in Gaza, in a move that could create hundreds of jobs in the besieged Palestinian enclave that is suffering under crippling sanctions.

The bottling facility had been partially open for several months but began full operations after a ceremony yesterday.

The $20 million investment is the company’s first plant in Gaza and will create around 120 jobs immediately, a statement said, with an eventual expansion to 270.

“Our new Gaza plant shows our ongoing commitment to investing and supporting progress in communities around the world,” Muhtar Kent, Coca-Cola CEO, said in a statement.

“The opening of our first Gaza plant is an important milestone,” said Zahi Khouri, the founder and chairman of National Beverage Company responsible for Coca-Cola in the Palestinian territories.

There are three other facilities in the West Bank, but the new Gaza plant could be a bonus for the struggling enclave’s economy. Between 2008 and 2014, Gaza has endured three Israeli wars against it, leading to extensive infrastructure damage and loss of life.

Israel also maintains a crippling siege on the Palestinian enclave which it claims is necessary for security reasons. However, Palestinians insist that the siege is a form of collective punishment, which is a crime under international law.

The unemployment rate on the Mediterranean territory is over 40 per cent, with close to two-thirds of young people out of work. The United Nations has estimated the Palestinian economy could double in size if the Israeli occupation ended.

The World Bank said in September that just 10.7 per cent of the 11,000 houses that were totally destroyed in the 2014 war had so far been rebuilt and about 50 per cent of partially and severely damaged houses were still awaiting repair.