The impact of the Corona crisis on the exhausted Gaza Strip economy

Dr. Maher al-Tabbaa

Director of Public Relations and Media at the Gaza Chamber of  Commerce and Industry

The economy in the Gaza Strip suffers from the siege policy imposed by Israel for the thirteenth year in a row, in addition to the repeated Israeli military wars and aggressions that deepened the economic crisis as a result of the massive damage it left in the infrastructure and all economic sectors.
The delay in the reconstruction process, especially in the economic sector and the failure to compensate the affected companies, led to serious repercussions on the economic conditions, and many international institutions warned of the repercussions of maintaining the blockade imposed on the sector and the delay in the reconstruction process in all economic, social, health and environmental aspects, where a report stated Issued by the United Nations on 27/8/2012 that the Gaza Strip will not be “suitable for living” by 2020 unless urgent measures are taken to improve water, electricity, health and education services.
The Gaza Strip suffers from several crises, the foremost of which is high unemployment rates that exceed 50%, and the number of unemployed has reached more than a quarter of a million unemployed. According to the World Bank, unemployment rates are the highest globally.
Unemployment rates among youth and graduates in the 20-29 age group with an intermediate diploma or bachelor’s degree in the Gaza Strip increased to over 69%, poverty increased to 53%, and food insecurity among families reached 68% or about 1.3 million People, and 80% of the population depend on food aid.
The Corona virus crisis deepens the economic crises in the sector as a result of the stalling of the economic wheel and the stoppage of productivity in some economic activities and its decrease in varying proportions in various activities, and this will cause high rates of unemployment and poverty, where more than 45 thousand workers are unemployed in addition to the huge losses That will be incurred by owners of economic facilities.
The tourism sector is considered one of the largest sectors affected and the rate of stopping is 100%, as tourism in Gaza depends mainly on visitors coming from abroad, in addition to the closure of tourist facilities such as restaurants, conference rooms and workshops, halls and wedding halls in addition to canceling all reservations, in addition to closing Tourism and travel companies and Hajj and Umrah companies, and this has led to the injury of workers in the tourism sector, in addition to the daily obligations required of employers, and the number of workers in activities related to the tourism sector in the Gaza Strip is about 8,700 workers.
The transportation sector was also affected, as it stopped by 80% due to the suspension of universities, schools and kindergartens, in addition to the lack of movement of citizens within the sector, and more than 3000 workers working in this sector were affected.
The industrial sector witnessed a remarkable decline in productivity in all industrial sectors in light of the precautionary measures to confront the outbreak of the Corona virus, as about 10,000 workers lost their jobs, and the sectors most affected were the construction, paper, engineering, metallurgical, wood and aluminum sectors, while the least affected sectors were the sewing and textile sector with the exception of a number A limited number of factories in this sector that worked on the production of protective clothing from the virus, followed by leather and wood industries, in addition to the renewable energy sector, which is now dependent on maintenance.
The various commercial sectors witnessed a noticeable decline, as their productive capacity decreased by 60% to 70% due to the lack of purchasing power and the orientation of citizens to the sectors most in need, which were food, cleaning and protective materials and medical supplies, and sectors that were no longer important to citizens declined In light of the Corona pandemic, which was represented in the shops selling clothes, shoes, libraries and stationery that were affected by the stoppage of schools, universities and other sectors.
The information technology sector witnessed a sharp decline in productivity due to the low purchasing power resulting from movement restrictions in the Gaza Strip, and more than 3,000 workers who work in computer companies, mobile phones, software, and Internet providers, training and consulting, were affected.
The Corona pandemic led to the suspension of construction companies except in emergency projects. About 200 contracting companies in Gaza were hired, employing about 10,000 workers who stopped working since the beginning of the procedures to prevent “Corona”.
All private educational institutions licensed and accredited by the Ministry of Education were affected, as all 700 kindergartens in the Gaza Strip were closed, 53 private schools were closed, and 365 private educational centers were closed, which led to damage to workers in the private educational sector, in addition to To the daily obligations required of employers, and the number of workers in activities related to the private educational sector in the Gaza Strip is more than 5,000 workers.
Hence, since the health situation in Gaza is under control and there are no cases inside the sector infected with the Coronavirus and that all those coming from abroad are quarantined and there is no contact with them, we hope that the competent authorities in the Gaza Strip start to develop a scenario to ease the procedures and start gradually returning to normal, especially We are heading towards the holy month of Ramadan, in order to mitigate the economic losses, to preserve the remainder of the impoverished Gaza economy, and to contribute to the return of workers to their jobs again, as it is customary that consumption rates rise by citizens in the holy month of Ramadan, which constitutes an additional economic burden on The people of citizens, where needs increase and multiply expenses in this holy month of Ramadan through the various tables, and obligations of social and family aspects.