Price increases have angered many who were planning to purchase necessities during the break in Israel’s bombardment, such as food and warm clothes.
Central Gaza Strip: Deir el-BalahWith the first truce between Israel and Hamas since October 7, the noises of battle have subsided, and consumers eager to purchase food supplies and winter clothing have filled the Gaza Strip’s marketplaces.
However, the price of these goods has increased dramatically, especially for necessities, which has infuriated and resentful customers who hold retailers and market vendors responsible for the exorbitant costs.
Imm Abdullah, who was forced to flee her house in Gaza City’s Nassr neighborhood a month ago after Israel gave the order for residents of northern Gaza to relocate south, has been residing with her twelve children and grandkids at a United Nations-run school in Deir el-Balah. According to her, the school’s situation has gotten dire, with little food and no access to water.
She claimed, “I left with my family wearing just my prayer clothes when the Israelis threw leaflets down at us.” We seldom ever receive food help at the school. We recently acquired a tuna can. With that, how am I going to support my family?
The weather had turned chilly, so Imm Abdullah had come to the town’s market to attempt to buy food and some warmer clothes for herself and her grandkids. She searched many vendors for basic food items, but eventually her frustration boiled out.
She declared, “I don’t believe the merchants when they say they have no control over the prices.” “They should not take advantage of the extraordinary times we are living in; they can control prices and show consideration for that.”
She cited a number of items that are now out of reach: The price of bottled water has increased from 2 shekels ($0.50) to 4 or 5 shekels ($0.80-$1). An egg carton costs 45 shekels, or $12. Salt used to cost one shekel per kilogram, but today it costs twelve ($3.20) and sugar twenty-five shekels ($6.70).
According to Imm Abdullah, “It’s so unfair.” “I don’t know how to feed or support my family, so some days I go sit by the water and cry because I can’t take it any more. There are moments when I wish we had remained home and been bombed rather than going through this.
Blockade costs billions of dollars.
As to the data released by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the percentage of the Gaza Strip’s population living in extreme poverty is at 33.7%, while the overall poverty rate is 53 percent.
Gaza has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world at 47% and a household food insecurity rate of over 64%.
Elhasan Bakr, a Gaza-based economic analyst, claims that the pricing distortion has caused inflation for a range of items to reach between 300 and 2,000 percent.
The Israeli embargo of the coastal enclave, which lasted for 17 years, had already cost the Palestinian economy $35 billion as of October 7.
“The most recent Israeli aggression has been yet another blow to Gaza’s economy,” Bakr said to Al Jazeera. “There has been a loss to the private sector of over $3 billion directly, and over $1.5 billion indirectly.”
He went on, “The agricultural sector has lost $300 million directly.”
“Farmers won’t be able to reap the benefits of their labor for several years because of the uprooting and bulldozing of fruitful trees in the agricultural lands in the north and east near the Israeli fence,” he clarified.
We are discussing the complete cessation of economic activity in Gaza. 65,000 private sector economic facilities, spanning from the agriculture to the service sectors, have either been destroyed or have ceased operations as a result of the conflict. There is now a severe shortage of food security as a result of the significant loss of jobs caused by this.
Moreover, the meager aid that Israel has let to reach Gaza cannot meet the requirements of the nearly a million displaced people who are spending even a single day at UN schools.
“In those 20 days, from October 22 to November 12, fewer than 1,100 trucks entered the Gaza Strip,” Bakr stated. Less than 400 of these vehicles were transporting food items. Ten percent or less of Gaza’s food demands are satisfied. This is far from sufficient, especially in light of the fact that at least 500 trucks used to access the Strip every day prior to October 7.
He went on to say that in order to meet the demands of its 2.3 million inhabitants, the Gaza Strip will require 1,000 to 1,500 trucks every day.
“We had to go shopping while passing dead bodies.”
Every day that the ceasefire is in effect, Mohammed Yasser Abu Amra stands guard over the sacks of grains and spices that he sells in the Deir el-Balah market.
The 28-year-old claimed, “The war has affected everything, from supplies to delivery costs.” “I have to raise prices to break even because once that is finished, I won’t have the money to buy the same products because they will be more expensive.”
He said that the closure of the border crossings—which has forced wholesalers to charge substantially higher rates for their goods to shopkeepers—is the primary cause of the price increases.
“We used to sell lentils for three shekels ($0.80) per kilogram,” stated Abu Amra. “Now, we sell it for 10 shekels ($2.60) and buy it for 8 shekels ($2).”
He continued, saying that a bag of fava beans used to cost 70 shekels ($18) but now costs 150 shekels ($40), and a bag of cornflour used to cost 90 shekels ($19) but now costs 120 shekels ($32). The Israeli bombardment destroyed the home and warehouse of Abu Amra’s neighbor, a merchant who also lost $8,000 worth of products.
To the dismay of the surrounding store owners, Imm Watan Muheisan, another customer, exclaimed aloud that the present pricing were “insane.”
She said, “You can only buy a handful of food items if you have 1,000 shekels ($270).” “It used to be three kilograms for five shekels ($1.70), but now one kilogram costs 25 shekels ($6.70).”
The mother of seven is taking sanctuary in the Deir el-Balah UN school for girls after fleeing her house in the Shati (Beach) refugee camp east of Gaza City four weeks ago. According to her, she and her family are barely making ends meet there.
She said, “We had to go by the dead bodies on the street on our way here. “We’re not here to beg. We used to wear our best clothes to the market.”
Prices on the black market exceed
At the start of the conflict, Ahmad Abulnaja, an eighteen-year-old merchant, started selling clothing with his elder cousin Ali. He concurred that the price increase is the result of wholesale merchants.
“The price of a tracksuit has increased from 20 to 25 shekels ($5.30 to $6.70) to 45 shekels ($12),” he stated. In other words, because there is less supply, the merchant where I acquire my supplies has increased the price.
Food prices have increased more than those of clothing, but as winter approaches and displaced people try to purchase warm clothing, the demand for clothing has also increased. were compelled to abandon their belongings as they were forced to leave their homes in northern Gaza.
Because of the extent of the devastation in Gaza and the ongoing need for goods, Ali, Abulnaja’s cousin, said he thought the informal pricing would last for a very long time.
“We won’t have a solution for a while,” he stated. “Since northern Gaza is isolated from the rest of the Strip, there is nothing stopping one trader from selling a commodity at the price he sets, even if more goods reach the Gaza Strip.”
According to Elhasan Bakr, the economic analyst, there is also the problem of enterprises not receiving enough remuneration. He drew attention to the reality that donor assistance for the reconstruction of houses, as opposed to economic help, was concentrated on the enclave following earlier Israeli battles.
The UN estimates that the damage suffered by the past four Israeli offensives on the Strip between 2009 and 2021 was $5 billion; however, none of the damage from the conflicts in 2014 and 2021 had been restored.
“We are talking about the destruction of the basic infrastructure, from roads to communications towers, electricity installations, and sanitary extensions, which would take months to rebuild,” Bakr said.
However, until there is a significant international assistance effort, the Palestinian economy will not revive, and rates of unemployment and poverty will rise to all-time highs.
“Gaza is unlivable right now,” Bakr said, pointing out that over 300,000 people had lost their houses.
“Even just returning to our pre-war state would take at least five years.”