Textile workers weave 'economic peace' in Gaza

Palestinian industrialist with Israelis to create jobs

03 April, 14:43

    (by Sami al-Ajrami) (ANSAmed) - GAZA, APRIL 3 - Three businessmen - two Israelis and a Palestinian - are working beyond the open hostility of their respective leaders and populations as part of a local project to promote ''economic peace'' which could, already in its first phase, create thousands of jobs in the impoverished Gaza Strip. Their horizons are vast and range from Spain to the United States and Norway.

    The area in which Palestinian industrialist Nabil al-Bauab is weaving his dreams is deprived. His textile factory - which is modern and comfortable - is very close to the district of Sajaya, in eastern Gaza, which in 2014 was at the center of fighting between Hamas and the Israeli army and remains in a disastrous condition.

    However, he has found on the other part of the border two Israeli industrialists - Shlomi Fogel and Jacko Gabbai - who are like him trying to boos Israeli-Palestinian economic cooperation. Al-Bauab - according to Israeli financial newspaper Mammon - is trying to reach agreements in Spain with brand Zara, while Fogel (long a promoter of 'economic peace') is in contact with jeans producers Jordache in the US and with authorities in Norway.

    The objective is to cut fabrics in Israel, at a modern plant near Tel Aviv, and to complete production in Gaza (which is 85 km away). The costs - according to Mammon - are competitive with Chinese and Turkish producers.

    In an interview with ANSA, al-Bauab described how political developments in the region influenced the activities of his company. In his office he shows a picture of him with Yasser Arafat: at the time, he said, he had 2,000 employees and was one of the producers for the staff of the PLO leader.

    He was the first to be able to export from Gaza to New York thanks to an Israeli mediator. The crisis between Hamas and Israel and the blockade in the Strip followed. In order to survive, production moved to Egypt. But in 2017 al-Bauab decided to move back home as he missed it so much. He now manages a plant with 400 employees in the industrial area of Karni, near the border line with Israel. For those living in the poor districts of Gaza City, Karni appears like a dream. To reach it, it is necessary to go through a security check to gain access to a modern and functional area that hosts a Coca Cola plant and the warehouse of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA.

    Workers say they feel as if they were abroad.

    ''We are working hard - said al-Bauab - to get significant commissions from abroad. In exchange, we offer competitive costs together with a quality we have demonstrated over time''.

    If projects were to become effective, they could contribute to allay the situation in the Gaza Strip, employing 5,000 people while an additional 2,000 would work from home. Mammon's newspaper has already published an article saying there is an ''attempt to sew a new Middle East''. (ANSAmed).

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