By Ola Attallah
GAZA CITY – Palestinians in the besieged, isolated and political and economically boycotted Gaza Strip unveiled on Tuesday, March 18, a symbolic graveyard for factories forced to shut down and lay off people under the yoke of the continuing blockade.
"It is a heart-wrenching situation," Naser Al-Helw, a businessman who has just laid to rest his sewing and weaving factory, told IslamOnline.net.
"Look what we have reached now after nine deadly months of blockade."
The Popular Anti-Siege Committee established the Gaza Cemetery for Factories which has 40 graves covered with the Palestinian flags and flowers.
"This graveyard stands witness to the ramifications of the unjust closure of the Gaza Strip," said Gamal Al-Khoudari, the committee head.
He added that the Israeli blockade has taken its toll on dozens of infrastructure projects with more than $500 million in losses.
International and UN aid groups, most of which have been operating in the impoverished Gaza Strip for decades, blame the Israeli blockade for the deteriorating humanitarian conditions.
A memorial has been set up in the new cemetery for the onetime robust factories that now stand idle.
"The Plastic Tools Factory, 190 workers became jobless," reads the inscription on one headstone.
"The Print House, 150 workers lost their source of living," says another.
Al-Khudary, an independent lawmaker, said 3,900 factories in Gaza – out of a total of 4,000 – had closed since the blockade began.
"The massive closures have rendered up to 70,000 workers jobless."
He said unemployment rate in the fenced-off Strip now tops 65 percent.
"Some 80 percent of the Palestinians are living now below the poverty line, while some 1.1 million Gazans survive on foreign aid."
A group of eight British rights organizations said in a joint report earlier this month that the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are living through the worst humanitarian crisis in 40 years due to the ongoing Israeli blockade.
The depth of the humanitarian crisis was underlined by last month’s mass breakout across the border into Egypt by hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to stock up on desperately needed supplies.