Thursday, March 27, 2008

Gazans Face Higher Prices, Fewer Jobs

At the end of 2007 the international community acknowledged that addressing economic despair in Palestinian territories would be critical for creating a lasting peace. After the Annapolis Conference--from which Gaza was excluded--Europe and the US pledged billions of dollars for economic assistance to the West Bank based Palestinian Authority. But instead of supporting economic development where clashes have increased, Israel has continued its blockade pushing up prices by increasing scarcity and compounding the area's economic distress.

The AP reported that Gaza's bakeries went on strike this week to protest terrible business conditions in the territory. Rising prices of flour and fuel exacerbated by the Israeli blockade paired with price ceilings imposed by the Hamas led government make it impossible for their businesses to operate.

Most Gazans, however, do not purchase their bread from bakeries. Instead they make it themselves. So while unemployment is increasing because of the poor economic conditions (OXFAM report), most Gazans are facing higher prices on everyday essentials--a kind of catch-22 for the region's 1.5 million residents.