Read Time: 3 minutes
As Muslims around the world mark Eid al-Adha, it is a sombre affair in Gaza.
Palestinians in the blockaded coastal enclave are experiencing a crippling economic crisis following Israel’s deadly war in May, with tightened restrictions leading to shortages of goods ahead of the four-day festival.
While Israeli authorities allowed the entry of clothes, fabrics, and food industry items into Gaza last week, raw materials desperately needed to reconstruct war-damaged infrastructure have been prohibited, with Gazans surrounded by devastation.
Many such banned materials such as cement and iron are defined as dual-use goods which Israel claims could serve both civilian and military purposes.
The 11 days of fighting in May damaged or destroyed over 16,000 Palestinian homes, 58 schools, nine hospitals and 19 clinics. More than 256 people were killed, including 66 children.
“Palestinians in the blockaded coastal enclave are experiencing a crippling economic crisis following Israel’s deadly war in May”
Empty shops and low sales
Gazan shopkeepers say they are suffering from record low sales amid Gaza’s tragic economic situation. Israel and Egypt’s 14-year blockade, which was tightened following Israel’s bombardment of Gaza in May, has led to a protracted humanitarian crisis.
Alaa Hamed, a 26-year-old owner of a small clothing shop in Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza, says that residents were less likely to buy clothes for Eid even before the Israeli military allowed new items to enter last Thursday.
“I thought the scarcity of clothes available in my shop was the main reason for the low sales,” he told The New Arab.
“But even when clothes were allowed to enter a few days before Eid my shop remained empty, and if there were customers, I could count them because they were less than you could imagine, unlike previous Eids,” he said.
Gazan markets are usually crowded during Eid celebrations, with people purchasing clothes, accessories, candies, and other gifts, but this Eid has seen a marked deterioration for Gazan vendors, who had hoped to recoup some of the losses caused by Covid-19 and Israel’s brutal war.
“Most residents who entered my shop bought nothing at all. I sold five pieces every day, but the rest of the people took a look at the clothes and their prices and left without buying anything,” he said.
“The war occurred two or three days before Eid al-Fitr took place, depriving us of celebrations, but this time the lack of sales has prevented us from making any profits,” Hamed added.
After goods were recently allowed to enter Gaza, Maha Saher, 28, went shopping to buy new clothes for her two daughters, Sara and Rama, trying to find items at a suitable price.
“Most Gazan shops didn’t have any of the new goods which were allowed to enter a few days before Eid. The available goods aren’t high quality despite being so expensive,” she said, adding that traders have attempted to compensate for some of their losses during the year.
Maha was forced to buy expensive clothes for her children even though her husband, who works as a photojournalist, receives only 50% of his total monthly salary, estimated at $250, which hardly covers their basic needs.
“I didn’t want to buy anything for them because of the unaffordable prices, but I couldn’t because Sara cried when she found out,” she said. “She was happy today because she wore new clothes to celebrate Eid”.