Israeli occupation forces are preventing Palestinian shopkeepers in the occupied Old City of Jerusalem from re-opening their shops despite the lifting of Israel's third lockdown last week, reported Wafa news agency.
According to Hijazi Rishiq, chairman of the Jerusalem Merchants Committee, Israeli soldiers have been patrolling the markets more than usual, in order to close any initiatives aimed at boosting the economic life of the Old City and helping merchants recover from the state of recession caused by the lockdown.
Palestinian Gross Domestic Product (GDP) declined by 12 per cent in 2020 compared to 2019 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
More than 66,000 employees lost their jobs pushing the unemployment rate to 27.8 per cent.
Hijazi said only a slight improvement has been made following the reopening of the economy, embattled by the 42-day lockdown which was imposed last month due to a surge in coronavirus infections in Israel.
Since the start of the virus outbreak early last year, 641,373 people in Israel have been diagnosed with the virus, according to Health Ministry figures. The death toll stands at 4,768.
He added that the Israeli occupation authorities are taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to stifle the Palestinian economy in Jerusalem.
More than 50 shops were forced to close down in Jerusalem in recent years as a result of financial pressures and the constant restrictions on movement that make running a business challenging.
The total number of employees in the labour market dropped from 951,000 in 2019 to 884,00 in 2020.
Critics warn that Israel is going to great lengths to push Palestinians out of Jerusalem because of the significance the city holds, it not only has religious value, but it is also the historical, cultural, and political epicentre of Palestinian life.