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Monday, April 15, 2024

Economic struggles and unemployment grips West Bank

The impact of the conflict is not confined to individual hardships but is resonating throughout the West Bank's economy.

The recent conflict between Israel and Hamas, centred in Gaza, is causing profound and widespread repercussions in the West Bank, even though the battles are geographically distant. 

Termination of Work Permits

The termination of work permits for Palestinians from both the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza, in response to the Hamas attacks on October 7, has had dire consequences. Thousands like Ibrahim Al-Qiq, a 37-year-old father of three, have found themselves unemployed, sinking into despair and debt. Al-Qiq, once a construction worker earning 6,000 shekels ($1,615) a month, now faces the challenge of providing for his family without a source of income.

Read More: Priyanka Chopra Advocates for Ceasefire in Gaza

Economic Struggles in the West Bank

The impact of the conflict is not confined to individual hardships but is resonating throughout the West Bank’s economy. The termination of 130,000 work permits for West Bank Palestinians and the withholding of 600 million shekels ($160 million) in taxes on Palestinian goods have created a financial crisis. Manal Qarhan, an official at the Palestinian Ministry of Economy, highlights that the administration is losing $24 million per day, emphasising the severity of the economic downturn.

Unemployment Woes

Unlike Israeli workers, Palestinian workers do not receive social insurance or unemployment compensation from the Israeli government. With no support offered by the Palestinian Authority either, the unemployed find themselves grappling with financial uncertainties. Tareq Al-Hlahla, one of the jobless individuals, notes that some have had to sell personal assets, such as gold jewellery, to provide for their families.

Local Economy in Shambles

The economic crisis is rippling through the local business landscape. Ahmed Radwan, a supermarket owner in Kharas, reports a 70 percent drop in sales and the cessation of providing groceries on credit due to mounting customer debts. The economic downturn has forced Radwan to lay off half of his workers, reflecting the broader impact on employment in the region.

Escalating Violence and Insecurity

The fallout extends beyond economic struggles, with a surge in violence reported in the West Bank. Israeli forces conducting regular raids have led to the death of around 270 Palestinians since the war began, according to the Palestinian Authority. Moreover, the establishment of military checkpoints is making life even more precarious for Palestinians, exposing them to settler attacks and complicating the transport of goods and workers.

Read More: Muslims worldwide engaged in Global Strike Day in solidarity with Gaza

As the West Bank grapples with the aftermath of the Gaza war, uncertainty looms over the future. The economic challenges, coupled with escalating violence and insecurity, paint a grim picture for the people of the West Bank. The international community’s attention to these issues becomes crucial in providing support and finding avenues for sustainable solutions to alleviate the suffering of those affected.