A Palestinian vendor sells pickles in a market in Gaza City, Aug. 20, 2009. (photo by REUTERS/Mohammed Salem)
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Thousands of unemployed in the Gaza Strip wait for the summer season to get their small projects up and running to support their families in light of the continuing economic downturn. These projects include the sale of boiled corn and summer fruits on small carts, moving between markets and beaches. The owners of these projects, who are trying to fight poverty and unemployment, usually face several types of harassment by local authorities, most notably the latter’s imposition and collection of taxes.
Economist Mohsen Abu Ramadan believes the spread of street carts and vendors is a natural phenomenon resulting from economic deterioration, increasing poverty and unemployment rates, accumulation of university graduates, the Israeli blockade and repeated wars. “The economic situation in Gaza does not give the breadwinner the opportunity to find a job to protect his family from [the need to] beg. Therefore, he would work at any job to support his family,” Abu Ramadan told Al-Monitor.
Abu Mohammed Mekdad, 42, who worked at a concrete factory that was destroyed in Israel’s last war on Gaza, was forced to borrow some money from relatives to buy a cart to sell fruit in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood in northern Gaza City to provide for his family that was displaced by the war. “Police cars are always on our tail, claiming that our work is illegal and unauthorized. Each time they confiscate our weighing scale and the cart’s umbrella and we can only get those back by paying a fine of 40 shekels (about $10),” he told Al-Monitor.
Mohammed Abu Dalfa, a 27-year-old fruit vendor, said, “Police raids have increased recently. They used to occur once a month, but during the past few months they are repeated three or four times [a month].” Abu Dalfa grudgingly added, “These raids aim only at imposing and collecting fines.”
He pointed out that the vendors are each time forced to go to the police station and pay the fine to recover the confiscated items. “If the vendor fails to pay the fine within one month, the items are permanently confiscated and sold at auction as spare junk,” Abu Dalfa said.
He indignantly indicated that instead of being concerned with improving water, electricity and sanitation services to citizens, local authorities are preoccupied with raising money from taxes and fines.
The poverty rate in the Gaza Strip stood at 65% as of the fourth quarter of 2014, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics.
Two blocks from Sheikh Radwan neighborhood, Khoder al-Iff, 19, stands on the corner of the street holding a box containing packets of cigarettes. He fears his goods will be confiscated. He reaps profits from the sale of cigarettes for 30 shekels a day (about $8) and this is the only source of livelihood for his family of four.
“The police are after us in an arbitrary manner. Sometimes they chase us and sometimes they let us go,” he said. “If they arrest us they confiscate our goods.”
The police in Gaza decided April 6 to prevent street vendors from selling cigarettes on main and secondary streets. The Interior Ministry website said this decision aims at reducing the prevalence of smoking among those younger than 18.
Iff questioned the credibility of these claims and sarcastically said, “If the [Interior Ministry’s] arguments were true, why did the police allow shops to sell cigarettes to people of all ages without any impediments?”
He added, “The real reason behind this decision is that we obtain our goods before they are subject to customs duties through dealers who smuggle cigarettes. Therefore, this decision aims to fight [the selling of] cigarettes that are not subject to customs duty only.”
Ahmed Abu Assi, 25, built a cart for selling boiled corn on the beach of Gaza, which is the entertainment escape for Gazans during summer. He was shocked that at the end of April, officials from the Municipality of Gaza destroyed his cart following skirmishes between him and municipality employees, claiming that it was illegal.
“The buliding of this cart, which I called ‘Roots al-Glaba’ [luxury for the poor people], cost me 550 shekels [about $140], but I was surprised that officials from Gaza’s municipality destroyed it, allegedly claiming its illegality despite the existence of dozens of other carts on the beach,” Abu Assi told Al-Monitor.
Social media activists started the hashtag #Roots_algalaba on Facebook in solidarity with him. Some of them collected money and rebuilt the corn cart in a move that gained great popularity.
The Palestinian News and Info Agency (WAFA) cited a World Bank report saying unemployment in the Gaza Strip is the highest in the world, reaching 43% at the end of 2014.
The May 22 article’s quoted the report: “Gaza’s economic performance over this period has been roughly 250% worse than that of any relevant comparators including that of the West Bank. … Real per capita income is 31% lower in Gaza than it was 20 years ago. … GDP losses caused by the blockade [are] estimated at over 50%.”
For Abu Ramadan, it’s extremely unfair to impose taxes on these vendors; rather, they must be given support and commercial facilities and legislation must be issued to facilitate their life instead of complicating it.
He said Hamas is suffering from a financial crisis because of the closure of tunnels and the drained external financial support sources that forced it to impose taxes on citizens to obtain money.
“The tax imposition policy adopted by Hamas, most notably the Solidarity Tax law, cannot be applied onto a society like the Palestinian society in Gaza, which has been suffering from living, political and economic instability for years,” Abu Ramadan said.
The Ministry of Economy in Gaza’s government had announced in October 2013 that the closure of tunnels caused losses estimated at $230 million a month.
According to Hamas leader Yahya Moussa, about $9 million in taxes were being reaped every month in the Gaza Strip before the imposition of the Solidarity Tax law, while local authorities need $40 million per month to manage governmental institutions and ministries.
Street vendors are calling on the local authorities to provide decent jobs that could help vendors face unemployment and poverty — instead of imposing taxes.
(Photo: Aish.com / YouTube)
Despite advances in modern medicine, China is setting up roadblocks to cope with an outbreak of an ancient plague that once wiped out one-third of the world’s population and may have been one of the plagues that God used to strike Egypt.
Chinese officials installed temperature scanners at airports and checkpoints on main roads in an attempt to stop the spread of Bubonic plague as a fourth case was discovered in less than three weeks. A program to exterminate rats and fleas, which carry the disease, was also launched in Inner Mongolia where the disease seems to be originating.
Demonstrators gather in solidarity with anti-regime protests in Iran outside the Iranian Embassy in Helsinki, Finland. Photo: Reuters / Lehtikuva / Heikki Saukkomaa.
Four human rights lawyers currently imprisoned by the Iranian regime have been awarded with the annual prize of Europe’s most prestigious lawyers’ association.
The Iranian lawyers received the 2019 Human Rights Award from The Council of Bars and Law Societies Of Europe (CCBE) — a body that represents the bars and law societies of 45 countries and through them more than 1 million European lawyers.
The University of Bristol campus. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
The University of Bristol in England has adopted “in full” the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, the school’s Epigram independent student newspaper reported on Monday.
The Union of Jewish Students (UJS) and Bristol’s Jewish Society (J-Soc) welcomed the move, saying, “The University of Bristol has not been free of antisemitic incidents and the adoption of this definition is an important first step in helping the university tackle anti-Jewish racism. We now expect the university to use this definition in outstanding disciplinary cases.”
Pope Francis Meets Thailand’s Buddhist Patriarch in Golden Temple (screenshot)
Pope Francis topped off his three-day visit to Thailand last Saturday with a meeting with Thailand’s supreme Buddhist patriarch Somdej Phra Maha Muneewong at Bangkok’s Ratchabophit Temple. The meeting took place in front of a 150-year-old gold statue of Buddha. The Pope followed Buddhist custom by removing his shoes.
During the meeting, the Pope gave the Buddhist Patriarch the Declaration on Human Brotherhood. The Declaration s a joint statement signed by Pope Francis of the Catholic Church and Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, last February in Abu Dhabi. The Pope met with the Imam last month to reinforce the Declaration.
An Israeli company says it is using space travel technology to help solve one of the most pressing problems down on Earth — the reliance on diesel fuel, a major source of pollution.
Israeli startup GenCell has developed an electric generator based on a hydrogen-energy technology used to power some of the most-famous space missions in history.
Oct 25, 2019 0People arrive at a polling station to vote in the federal election in Beauce, Quebec, Canada, Oct. 21, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Mathieu Belanger. A top Jewish advocacy group said on Friday it...
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The verse (Deuteronomy 6:4) Shema Yisrael – “Hear Oh Israel the Lord our God, the Lord is One” – is understood to (in Wikipedia’s words) “encapsulate the monotheistic essence of Judaism.” It’s understood to be a declaration not only there is one and only one God, but also that God’s oneness is all-inclusive. God includes every particle of existence is within Him. God is not just ruling over the world. God encompasses the world. Time and space and all of us are within God. Nothing stands outside of God’s Oneness, and God encompasses all existence equally
Watching events unfold in Israel is an experience in split-screen living. On the right side of the screen is the chaos outside our gates, in neighboring lands. And on the left side of the screen is the chaos inside.
On the left side of the screen on Tuesday, 15,000 Israelis gathered Tuesday evening outside the Tel Aviv Museum of Art to demand legal justice for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the face of what they view as an anti-democratic usurpation of political power by Israel’s legal fraternity.
It hard to believe that two weeks ago, Israel was on the brink of war. With the Palestinian Islamic Jihad firing nearly 500 missiles from Gaza into Israel within a 48-hour period, even Tel Aviv was put on alert and certain train routes were canceled. My mind immediately raced to a Christian group I was going to host for Shabbat in Jerusalem Israel – Pastor Leroy Armstrong of Proclaiming the Word Ministries.
Turkey’s little remarked on but ongoing mistreatment of historic churches is increasingly reflective of that nation’s growing sense of Islamic supremacism.
Before the Turks invaded it, Anatolia (present day Turkey) was an ancient Christian region; a large chunk of St. Paul’s epistles were sent to or dealt with its churches, including the seven of the Apocalypse. With the Turks’ conquest, colonization, and subsequent Turkification of Anatolia—hence why it’s now simply called “Turkey”—tens of thousands of churches were systematically desecrated and turned into victory mosques.
Sorek was the grandson of a Rabbi who survived the Holocaust, and was universally described as a kind, gentle soul. His funeral was interrupted by Palestinians shooting off fireworks celebrating his murder.
Two terrorists, including one affiliated with Hamas were arrested for the murder. And at the time, Hamas said in a statement, “We salute the hero fighters, sons of our people, who carried out the heroic operation which killed a soldier of the occupation army,” Hamas said in a statement. The Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad also hailed the killing as “heroic and bold.”