Eyeless and unemployed in Gaza

Eyeless and unemployed in Gaza†

8 Reasons for high unemployment in Gaza that are not Israel’s fault

13 June 2011

Related Action items: The UN gets it wrong – again

Time to call BS, once again on UNRWA and Chris Gunness.

Unemployment in the Gaza Strip remains among the highest in the world and real wages have continued to decline every year since Israel imposed a blockade of the area, according to a new report from the United Nations agency that assists Palestinian refugees.

13 June 2011  UN News Center

Is Gaza unemployment levels ‘among worst in world’?

Is it true? The CIA World Factbook places Gaza at no. 184 from 200 so statistically that is correct (even though most figures are simply estimates and not necessarily recent) although when the percentage reaches about 50% it really jumps. Unemployment is far worse in Namibia (51.2%), Djibouti (59%), Cocos (Keeling) Islands (60%), Turkmenistan (60%), Burkina Faso (77%), Liberia (85%), Nauru (90%) and Zimbabwe (95%).
What is it with hellholes like the Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Nauru?

Sounds to me like another myth like Gaza as the World’s most densely populated place. Even the BBC rarely repeats that because it is so easily refutable.

Just to muddy the water even further. The unemployment rate is 30.8% and the poverty rate is 38%, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (A year after ‘Mavi Marmara’ raid, life in Gaza eases By Omer Ghraib/ THE MEDIA LINE 13/6/2011). A full 15% less than the UN figures.

How do previous figures compare

Gaza unemployment rates have always been high. These figures come from Index Mundi (based on CIA figures).

Year Employment rate
2003 50%
2004 50%
2005 50%
2006 31%
2007 20.3%
2008 34.8%
2009 41.3%
2010 40%
2011 40%

Gaza unemployment

What led to the drop in 2007? It should be noted that peak unemployment was actually higher before the blockade.

Why Gaza’s employment in terminal melt-down

1) No work in Israel

Israel was the major local employer until the Palestinians as a matter of strategy made Palestinian labour, too expensive, too unreliable and too dangerous during the 1st Intifada. Even if Israel was to lift the blockade entirely it is unlikely to want or need to bring in Palestinian workers. They cut their own throat.

2) No work anywhere else

Virtually all Palestinian workers were expelled from the Gulf following the 1st Gulf War because Arafat supported Saddam Hussein. They have been replaced by other groups such as South Asians. Palestinians won’t be reemployed even if Gazans leave freely. Which BTW they can as Egypyt has opened the border. They cut their own throat.

3) Damaged infrastructure

The day after the 2005  Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, Palestinians trashed facilities, such as expensive, state-of-the-art greenhouses, left to provide employment. Sure things can be rebuilt if you have the technology and materials to do so. Unfortunately no one is going to give it to them – twice. They cut their own throat.

4) Hamas attacked the factories

Border industrial zones designed to allow Palestinians to work for the Israeli economy without being physically in Israel closed when violent Hamas attacks made them too risky for investors and workers, alike. They cut their own throat.

5) Civil war

After Hamas took over it fought and beat Fatah in Gaza in 2007 the situation turned worse. Although Fatah was corrupt it provided almost all the local entrepreneurship. Also, and not incidentally the PA (Fatah) became much less willing to pay.They cut their own throat.

6) The welfare trap

The Palestinian ‘refugees’ (actually their children, grandchildren & great grandchildren) receive the highest amount of International aid of any world group (Granted not all reaches them). This has created a welfare mentality and discouraged work. They cut their own throat.

7) The demographic trap‡

Even if Gaza isn’t the densest population in the world the population is apparently rising fast. In 1997 Gaza had a population of 1,022,207 ,in 2007 that had risen to 1,416,543  and today the Gaza Interior Ministry claims just under the 1.7 million mark.

The UN estimates the world’s current average population growth at 1.17% although why should we believe them judging by this last report? Gaza’s growth is 3.3% and expected to double in 21 years at that rate.

Even with a stable population it’s hard to produce jobs. Just ask Obama. If there were no blockade, Gaza would have its hands full just keeping up with the 60,000 babies born each year.

8) Hamas!!!!!! Why didn’t I mention this sooner?

According to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) Hamas is collecting a raft of new taxes in its impoverished Gaza enclave. Add to that Local bank branches in Gaza boycott the Hamas-run government because it is considered a terrorist organisation by Israel, the United States and the European Union.

Yes life is tough in Gaza. Still it’s odd that no one ever asks what effect does the Hamas government have on the situation. As always the Islamists are given a pass from any responsibility.

Conclusion Palestinians are responsible for most of Gazan unemployment and the United Nations are too lazy and/or biased to do the most basic research.

Action item: Use this information and start commenting everywhere the Gaza unemployment story appears.


† … Promise was that I
Should Israel from Philistian yoke deliver;
Ask for this great deliverer now, and find him
Eyeless in Gaza at the Mill with slaves …

John Milton’s Samson Agonistes

Or in other words: No good deed goes unpunished.
‡ Hat tip to Pounce from Biased BBC

About David Guy

B.A./B.C.A. (Communication and Media Arts) University of Wollongong, AUSTRALIA M.A. in Government (Diplomacy and Conflict Studies) Inter Disciplinary Center, Herzliya, ISRAEL Twitter @5MFI
This entry was posted in 5MFI Blog. Bookmark the permalink.