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Unemployment in Gaza reaches highest levels since 2014

Palestinians attend a protest against unemployment and poverty outside the Palestinian Prime Ministry in Gaza City Gaza on November 24 2016 [Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency]
Palestinians attend a protest against unemployment and poverty outside the Palestinian Prime Ministry in Gaza City Gaza on 24 November 2016 [Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency]

Gaza’s unemployment rate rose to 44 percent during the second quarter of 2017, reaching the highest rate since the end of Operation Protective Edge in 2014.

The figures were published in a 27 September press release by Gisha, an Israeli NGO focusing on access restrictions for Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied and blockaded Gaza Strip.

The 44 percent unemployment rate for the second quarter was up from 41.1 percent in the first quarter of the year.

Among people in the workforce younger than 29-years-old, unemployment rose from 56.9 percent in the first quarter to 61.9 percent in the second.

According to Gisha, “these are the worst unemployment rates since the beginning of 2014, when Israel halted entry of construction materials altogether, paralyzing Gaza’s construction sector”.

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Gisha attributes the rise in unemployment rates to “a significant drop in the number of individuals employed in the construction sector (15,484 people down from 20,472 in the first quarter).

Other factors cited by the NGO include “measures taken by the Palestinian Authority against its employees in the Strip”, as well as a reduction in work hours during Ramadan.

“Such a significant decline over a very short period of time underlines the desperate state of Gaza’s economy”, Gisha states. “The continuous decline in the employment of women and young people attests to negative economic growth and a severe lack of opportunities for development”.

Summarising the situation, Gisha notes that long-standing Israeli restrictions continue, or have even tightened. “The number of people exiting Gaza through [the Israeli-controlled] Erez Crossing, including merchants and businesspeople, continues to decrease, indicating a further tightening of the closure, and no laborers are permitted to exit”.

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