The Gaza Strip has entered its fifth year of a full Israeli blockade by land, air and sea with 45.2 percent of the workforce without a job according to a UN aid agency report
That is one of the highest unemployment rates in the world.
The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees said real wages have fallen by 34.5 since sanctions were imposed after Hamas won elections in Gaza.
“These are disturbing trends,” said UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness, “and the refugees, who make up two-thirds of Gaza’s 1.5 million population, were the worst hit.”
“It is hard to understand the logic of a man-made policy which deliberately impoverishes so many and condemns hundreds of thousands of potentially productive people to a life of destitution,” Gunness said.
Israel continues to blockade Gaza, controlling the flow of imports and tightly restricting access to Israeli territory mainly to urgent humanitarian cases, to prevent Hamas militants who are supported by Iran and Syria from obtaining weapons, explosives and ammunition.
It partly relaxed its grip a year ago in response to international pressure, allowing in more trade goods and expanding the secure logistics hub at Kerem Shalom crossing to a potential 400 truckloads of goods per day.
UNRWA provides food staples and schools for Gaza’s refugee population. The enclave has no airport or seaport for freight.
The UN has recently asked countries to dissuade those pro-Palestinian groups with plans to break the blockade by sea in so-called “international humanitarian aid” flotillas that Israel says are simply politically motivated provocations.
The Islamist group Hamas refuses to recognise the Jewish state or renounce violence and is shunned in the West as a terror organisation. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said no country could be expected to negotiate peace with Hamas under such conditions.