Palestine, like many countries around the world, commemorated International Workers’ Day on Saturday, May 1. But for a country that is overwhelmed with a persisting military occupation, thus exploitation and unemployment of large sectors of its workforce, the occasion was bittersweet.
While many statements were issued in appreciation of the contribution of Palestinian workers, hundreds of thousands of these workers are unemployed at the moment, due, in part, to the Israeli occupation, and also to the COVID-19 lockdown.
No other place, in Palestine, however, was hit as hard as the besieged Gaza Strip. The small enclave has been under the draconian economic blockade, imposed largely by the Israeli army but also by Egypt.
The Turkish Anadolu news agency, citing Palestinian sources, reported Friday that more than 300,000 workers living in the Gaza Strip are unemployed because of the ongoing Israeli blockade and coronavirus measures.
“The international community ignores the humanitarian situation of more than 2 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip,” the head of the Popular Committee to End Gaza’s Siege, Jamal al-Hudari, said in a statement issued on the occasion of the International Workers’ Day.
Al-Hudari called for international assistance through trade unions for workers in Palestine, especially the Gaza Strip.
Gaza authorities “imposed additional measures to curb the coronavirus outbreak in Gaza as the enclave has seen a surge in daily infections since the beginning of March,” Anadolu also reported.
“International Workers’ Day, by definition, should compel us to look at the situation of workers beyond the borders of our cities and countries,” said Palestinian journalist and editor of The Palestine Chronicle Ramzy Baroud.
“Of course, we must offer solidarity to our workers at national levels but we must also extend this solidarity to oppressed and exploited workers all over the world,” he added.
“In Gaza in particular, workers are not merely fighting for better job opportunities, they are fighting for sheer survival, as their families suffer malnutrition, lack of access to education, clean water and life-saving medication. On this day, we have to think about all of them and what the Israeli siege has done to Gaza, in fact, what the Israeli military occupation has done to all of Palestine.”
The densely populated Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli blockade since 2006. The blockade has undermined living conditions in the coastal enclave.
(All Photos: Fawzi Mahmoud, The Palestine Chronicle)
(The Palestine Chronicle)