Left-wing Palestinian factions, merchants rebuke Hamas over new taxes on imports
Several Palestinian factions and analysts criticised the Islamic Hamas movement for new taxes it imposed and custom hikes on various kinds of goods imported into the Gaza Strip.
In separate statements sent to The New Arab, left-wing factions said that the new taxes will exacerbate the suffering experienced by residents in the territory.
"Increasing taxes on imported and other goods by varying rates of up to 120 per cent cannot be considered as part of the necessary measures to protect domestic production," the left-wing Palestinian People's Party said in a press statement.
"The irrational new taxes carried out by the de facto government in Gaza increases burdens on citizens and exhausts their lives instead of protecting them and supporting their steadfastness," it added.
"The decision to impose taxes, taken by Hamas, coincides with the advent of the month of Ramadan and did not take into account the conditions of the citizens, in addition to the economic and social crises such as poverty, unemployment and mass emigration," the left-wing Palestine Liberation Front party said in a separate press statement.
For its part, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) said, "These measures expand deprivation suffered by a large segment of the Palestinian people by placing an additional number of basic commodities outside the purchasing power of the poor."
The left-wing factions stressed that Hamas' policies were now threatening the food security of the Palestinian people in Gaza, home to more than 2.3 million.
The decision to impose new taxes was also widely rejected by Palestinian merchants, who complained it will cause heavy losses, double their economic crises and further restrict many materials scheduled to enter Gaza.
In various remarks with TNA, the merchants called on trade unions, popular federations and civil society organisations to denounce the tax increase and "outrageous" price hike.
"It is better for Hamas to search for ways to help young people and graduates find job opportunities and not to exhaust them by imposing taxes," Mohammed al-Ejla, a local merchant of clothes, remarked.
"Hamas government is already funded by many countries like Qatar, Turkey, Iran and others, so we cannot understand its insistence to increase our suffering in Gaza," the 55-year-old father of three added.
Samir Abu Mudallal, an economist based in Gaza, told TNA that 70 per cent of the population of Gaza relies on charitable aid.
"Our people have been facing hunger, extreme poverty and unemployment for 16 years, at a rate of 47 per cent, while the youth unemployment rate reached 70 per cent," he said.
For 15 years, the locals in Gaza have been suffering economic and political deterioration since Israel imposed a blockade on the territory after the Islamic Hamas, which won the legislative elections in 2006, seized the territory following rounds of fighting with security forces loyal to the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority.
Making matters worse, Israel launched five large-scale wars on the besieged coastal enclave during this period, killing thousands and causing billions of dollars in damage.