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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Pressing play on a paused economy

Monday, April 27, 2015

Gisha releases a new report on the leading productive sectors in Gaza.

 In November 2014, Israel canceled the sweeping ban on sale of Gaza-made and grown goods in the West Bank. Against this backdrop, we gathered leading figures in five manufacturing sectors in Gaza in order to hear from them about the obstacles they face on the way to realizing their potential and about their hope for a better future.

 On November 6, 2014, a truck left Gaza on what one might call a historic trip. The cardboard boxes it was carrying, loaded with ten tons of cucumbers, were to be sold in Hebron. It was the first time Israel allowed goods from Gaza to be sold on the private market in the West Bank in seven and a half years. Since that morning, hundreds of trucks loaded with goods have left Gaza for West Bank markets, which had been blocked to Gaza residents since Hamas took control of the Strip.

Given that Israel and the West Bank had been Gaza’s main trade destinations until 2007, the ban on accessing these markets virtually eliminated economic life in Gaza and produced disparities between the two parts of the Palestinian territory with respect to nearly every economic parameter. Allowing the sale of Gaza made and grown goods in the West Bank, and recently also in Israel to a limited degree, is critical and gives ground for cautious optimism.

Around the same time as the cucumbers were on their way to Hebron, we brought together leading figures in five manufacturing sectors in Gaza for focus group discussions. We wanted to understand what the potential of trade with the West Bank means to them and what obstacles they face. Each focus group included representatives from one of Gaza’s main productive sectors: furniture, agriculture, textile, food processing and information and communication technology (ICT). Participants discussed the many years of closure, shared their thoughts on accessing West Bank markets, and their hope for a better future. 
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