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.
Aug 16, 2019 0
Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei speaks following his election victory. Photo: Reuters/Jose Cabezas.
A prominent Guatemalan supporter of Israel who once said, “He who is Israel’s enemy is Guatemala’s enemy,” won the country’s presidential election with 58.5 percent of the vote, results on Monday confirmed.
Conservative candidate Alejandro Giammattei emerged victorious in the vote in the second round of elections on Sunday, beating his rival Sandra Torres, a former first lady.
Aerial view of containers at a loading terminal in the port of Hamburg, Germany August 1, 2018. Photo: REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer.
German exports to Iran fell by nearly half in the first six months of 2019, data showed on Monday, suggesting companies are scaling back business ties with Tehran to avoid trouble with the United States after Washington reimposed sanctions.
Sales to Iran plunged by 48 percent to 678 million euros ($758.8 million) from January through June year-on-year, data from the Federal Statistics Office reviewed by Reutersshowed. Imports from Iran declined by 43 percent to nearly 110 million euros.
The New York Times logo. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
A New York Times editor is in trouble for what the Times calls repeated poor judgment on social media.
The editor, Jonathan Weisman, works in the Times Washington bureau with the title “deputy Washington editor” and is the author of the 2018 book (((Semitism))): Being Jewish in the Age Of Trump.
Canadian Observer to Post: Canada has niche capabilities to help in such a scenario.
“Mighty Waves,” the Navy’s large-scale multinational exercise simulating the aftermath of a major earthquake. (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON’S UNIT)
The five-day, large-scale multinational exercise, with 10 foreign fleets off the Haifa coast simulating the aftermath of a major earthquake, has brought the Israel Navy to “another level” of preparedness.
Dubbed “Mighty Waves,” the drill saw the participation of hundreds of troops on six ships at sea. Five helicopters also took part in the exercise, which focused on the after-effects of a significant 7.5 earthquake that leaves thousands dead and hundreds of thousands homeless.
A food market in Tel Aviv, Israel. Photo: Dr. Avishai Teicher vis Wikimedia Commons.
CTech – Israel has a reputation for being the Startup Nation, but Marcelle Machluf, dean of biotechnology and food engineering at Technion Israel Institute of Technology, predicts that in coming years Israel will be known as the FoodTech Nation.
“Foodtech and biotech are two fields that are climbing to the top of the tech industry,” Machluf told Calcalist in a recent interview. “This push is happening for a reason.
Aug 16, 2019 0A 2018 demonstration against antisemitism in Berlin. Photo: Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch. Another rabbi has been attacked in the streets of Berlin, the German capital, by male assailants who pushed him to...
Mass shootings are nothing new in the United States, but their sudden rise is ballooning into a shocking nationwide epidemic. Many blame a toxic political culture that is accentuating divisions rather than commonalities between Americans, and the ease in which Americans can access guns, including automatic assault rifles.
If Saturday’s horrifying terrorist attack in an El Paso Walmart had taken place in Jerusalem, leaving 22 Israelis dead, the killer would rot in jail knowing his family would be taken care of, paid every month by his government.
What, one has to ask, does Iran’s Islamic regime have to fear from the country’s Christians, Baha’is, Zoroastrians, Sufis, Sunni Muslims, or Jews? Yet its treatment of these minorities is so repressive that it seems not unreasonable to ask if the clerics might be afraid of what they consider challenges to their fantasy of pure Islamic identity.
The fate of Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s 2017 executive order barring state contractors from participating in the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement is in the hands of a federal judge. The order violates First Amendment rights, a lawsuit filed by a former Maryland state legislator claims. wsuit.
This week my family and I have the privilege of celebrating two significant and interrelated milestones. We celebrate the 15th anniversary of our arrival in Israel, taking on citizenship and planting our roots firmly in our historic homeland. And we celebrate (yes, celebrate) the induction into the IDF of our oldest son.
When our youngest son was born in Jerusalem, we knew that he would serve in the army, an obligation and privilege as an Israeli Jew, pretty much as genetic as his actual DNA. But when our oldest son was born in N.J., we didn’t know this would be his destiny.