Sunday, 13 December 2015

Israeli restrictions destroying Gaza’s furniture industry


Life as a carpenter in the besieged Gaza Strip is proving frustrating for Nahed al-Horani.

Suffocating Israeli restrictions are denying carpenters in Gaza the essentials of their trade: wood, carpentry tools and paint.

Israel bans or severely restricts “dual use” construction materials which it says can be used for military purposes, such as building tunnels, as well as for civilian needs.

These restrictions profoundly impact ordinary Palestinians in Gaza.

“All these unbearable constraints on our main equipment prevent us from having our products in the finest order,” al-Horani said. “The impact on the quality of our work has become severe.”

Al-Horani and his brother Yousef used to work in two separate shops in Deir al-Balah, a town in the central Gaza Strip, before the siege Israel imposed on Gaza eight years ago curtailed the industry.

The two decided to combine their work in one shop to pool their resources.

“Things are scarcer than ever,” al-Horani said.

Six months ago, Israel began preventing entry to Gaza the thick wood best suited to make furniture. Al-Horani said that he is now forced to glue thinner strips of wood together in order to get around the problem.

The Israeli blockade is systematically destroying the furniture industry in Gaza, according to al-Horani, and the craft itself is on the decline, as fewer customers can afford rising prices.

“I am afraid that my career is no longer enough to support my family,” he said.

Daily power outages are also taking their toll, al-Horani added, making work debilitatingly cumbersome. more

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