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Mohammed Arafat

Weaving relationships: Gaza factory produces Kippahs for Israel

Gazan factory workers sew items ready to be exported to Israel [Arafat]

Date of publication: 23 March, 2017

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Could economic ties between Gaza and Israel pave the way for peace in the Middle East, Arafat asks

Since 2006, politics has brought an end to every relationship that used to exist between Palestinian workers inside Israel, and the Israelis whom offered jobs.

Israel withdrew from Gaza in the so-called "Israeli disengagement from Gaza" in 2005, and Hamas has taken control of the Gaza Strip since.

Before then, thousands of Gazan workers would cross the Erez crossing to the north of Gaza to work in Israel for a salary of $800. Today, this figure remains a dream – many are unemployed, and dream of a salary of $200 to make do.

Palestinians hoping to bring about a change relocated the places of work from inside Israel, to small projects inside the besieged Strip.

Palestinian factory workers in Gaza   Palestinian factory workers in Gaza [Arafat]

Located in al-Shati camp in the western Gaza, are a number of factories. Mohammed abu Shanab's clothing factory is the only one that produces the Israeli Kippah - a brimless cap worn by Jews.

Abu Shanab's small factory is not limited only to the Kippah, but also manufactures dresses, shirts and other items ready for export to Israel. Annually, the factory produces around 10,000 trousers alone.

Kippahs produced in a Gazan factory Kippahs produced in a Gazan factory, ready for export to Israel [Arafat]

"The clothing sector is not developed yet although we were told that it would be developed by Israel."

Abu Shanab believes that politics must not affect the economic relationship between Israel and Gaza, saying that Israelis have economic friends in Gaza, and that, "work is a message that can bring peace to the area."

Recent studies show that the percentage of unemployment in the Gaza Strip is more over 42%, a direct cause of the Israeli siege and the political battles happening in the area, all of which affect the economy of the beleaguered Gaza Strip.

Palestinian factory workers in Gaza Palestinian factory workers in Gaza [Arafat]

Mohammed abu Kamel, a Palestinian weaver and clothing factory owner, said that producing special and customised items for Israel is a good thing as it is based on work and trading between the two.

"This can help develop the clothing market, which can offer new jobs for the unemployed and their families."

Yaseer al-Austaz, heading the Palestinian Textile and Garment Industry, said that fifteen Gazan clothing factories export their products to Israel, while an additional 26 export to the West Bank.

"Exporting to Israel and the West Bank increased the number of the working factories to 165, offering about 4500 jobs for weavers in Gaza."

Mohammed holds a bachelor degree in Teaching English as a Foreign Language and is preparing for a Masters in Peace and Conflict Studies. Author of, Still Living There, a book documenting Gaza's last war and its aftermath.

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author, and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.

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