As ceasefire deal 'nears', Gaza ministries announce staggering economic boost

As ceasefire deal 'nears', Gaza ministries announce staggering economic boost
Gaza's ministries announced an array of measures to tackle rising poverty and unemployment in the enclave, including salary payments, 10,000 new jobs and one-off donations to poor families
3 min read
06 November, 2018
Gaza's government workers have been protesting salary cuts for years [Getty]

Several government ministries in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday announced a series of major projects designed to alleviate the dire economic situation in the besieged enclave.

It is thought that the announcement of new jobs has been made possible after a major cash-injection into Gaza from Qatar, as part of a reconciliation deal between Palestinian factions and Israel.

In a press conference on Tuesday, Youssef Ibrahim, spokesperson for Gaza's social development ministry, announced it would pay 700 shekels ($190) to around 5,000 families who had loved ones killed or seriously injured during the Great Return March protests, which have been held every Friday in the Palestinian enclave.

Ibrahim added that an extra $100 would be paid to around 50,000 families in need.

The labour ministry also announced that in the coming days it would Palestinians can apply for 10,000 new government positions, available to graduates and the unemployed.

Gaza's finance ministry announced that government workers' salaries - which have been slashed to around 35 percent of what they were in 2016 - would begin to be paid to a level of at least 60 percent of original salaries, starting on Wednesday.

The Gaza Strip has been subject to a blockade from Israel and Egypt since 2006 which has decimated the economy and sent poverty and unemployment rates soaring. Salaries of the approximately 50,000 government workers have gone unpaid and there have been chronic shortages of power and clean water.

The Egyptian intelligence has been leading reconciliation efforts between Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah with Israel in order to ease the crippling blockade.

It has been reported that Hamas will work to end the Great March of Return protests which have been ongoing since 30 March, with hundreds of protestors - most of them young men - shot dead by Israeli forces.

On Sunday Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met with his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas to discuss the ceasefire deal, which is thought to require the Palestinian Authority to gradually begin paying the salaries of public sector workers in Gaza, with Qatar contributing funds to begin with, as well as oil supplies.

Ramallah would act as middle-men for funding to Gaza, due to international donors being unwilling to provide aid directly to Hamas.

Abbas would also agree to a "graded reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas that will eventually bring Abbas back to Gaza" according to the deal, with the PA eventually governing the besieged Palestinian enclave.

The crippling siege on Gaza would also be eased, with Egypt opening its Rafah border crossing, while Israel would allow in some supplies essential for the territory to rebuild after numerous crippling wars levelled huge parts of the territory.

A three-year ceasefire would require Hamas to end border protests and stop militias in Gaza from firing rockets into Israel.

Friday saw a sharp de-escalation in Israeli violence on the protesters, in a sign that Israel could be taking the planned ceasefire deal seriously.