Emad Haboub works around the clock to produce protective clothing, the demand for which has increased worldwide with the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
His factory used to supply hospitals before the crisis, but he now produces protective gear — such as medical overalls — to be sold to both the local market as well as the West Bank.
“We currently work on a daily basis, even on weekends and for 12 hours a day, to produce protective gear in order to meet the growing need,” Haboub, 47, said.
“There is an acute shortage of raw materials in the Gaza Strip, and we are currently trying to import them from abroad so that we can continue the work,” he added.
While the needs of the local market can be covered, the demand in the West Bank increases daily with the rise of confirmed cases.
At least 252 Palestinians have been infected with COVID-19, 12 of whom were in the Gaza Strip while the rest were in the West Bank. One fatality has been reported.
The Gaza Strip suffers from a severe economic recession due to the Israeli blockade that has been imposed on it for about 14 years. The unemployment rate reached 52 percent during 2019, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics.
Majed Shubair, who has been sewing for 40 years, believes that the current period is one of the best in terms of continuous work since Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007. “I work all week without stopping, and this has not happened for many years,” Shubair, who has 7 children, said.
“We hope that this global crisis ends, but at the same time we hope that work continues and that the Gaza Strip can live like the rest of the world. We have been suffering for many years without respite.”
Hassan Shehada, 56, whose sewing factory has been producing clothing for Israeli merchants for many years, has switched to producing medical masks, which he has been doing for three weeks now.
“With the closure of markets and stores in Israel, the production of clothing for Israeli merchants is no longer important. The demand for medical masks has increased, and production here has shifted accordingly,” Shehada said.
“I produce for the local market, but there is shortage of raw materials. Without them, I cannot produce for the Gaza Strip,” he said.
“What Gaza needs is work. This pandemic may end, but the Gaza Strip crisis will not end.”