West Bank economy collapse leaves thousands unemployed

West Bank residents are in despair as the economy collapses and numerous Palestinians lose jobs, according to AFP, December 12.

The territory, which has been illegally occupied by Israel since 1967, is home to 2.9 million inhabitants and the region is often subject to attacks from the Israelis, particularly since October 7. 

Following the escalation of tensions between Hamas and Israel in the beginning of October, many Palestinians residing in the West Bank have lost their Israeli work permits. It is believed that around 130,000 Palestinians have been stripped of their permits recently. 

British newspaper The Guardian reported on December 3 that in total, 400,000 people living in Palestine had been left unemployed as a result of the recent tensions.

A Kharas resident (situated near the West Bank city of Hebron) Ibrahim Al-Qiq, a father of three, is one of thousands to have lost their jobs in the region leaving him and many other in mountains of debt. 

Al-Qiq,37, earned 6,000 shekels ($1,620) a month as a construction worker in Israel and spoke to the press regarding his dire situation. 

He told AFP, “Our debts have piled up, and we need to buy provisions and pay the rent for our homes and the water and electricity bills.”, as well as noting that he had been forced to borrow thousands of shekels since his employment termination. 

READ: France condemns Israel’s “policy of terror”in the West Bank

Those living in the West Bank who didn’t commute to Israel were employed by the turmoil-stricken Palestinian Authority however the economic uncertainty has resulted in many employees failing to be paid. 

Jamil Siaara, another construction worker who was employed in Israel before the permit withdrawal, echoed the sentiments of Al-Qiq, “Our future is unclear. There is mental stress, and no savings.” 

Unlike Israelis, the Netanyahu government’s policy means that Palestinians are not entitled to unemployment benefits or social insurance and the Palestinian Authority does not offer such grants meaning unemployed Palestinians are forced to stand on their own two feet. 

As well as Israeli forces’ brutal assault on Gaza, where over 18,000 have been murdered since October, hundreds in the West Bank have been killed, thousands have been wounded and numerous residents have been wrongfully arrested and flung in Israeli dungeons during that period. 

AFP/ The Guardian

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