Feature: Ramadan's feast not happy in Gaza

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GAZA, May 31 (Xinhua) -- The residents in Gaza Strip begin their tradition preparing to welcome the upcoming Eid al-Fitr, the end of Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Gazans used to go shopping in the last days of Ramadan to buy their own clothes, accessories and sweets. But this year is different from previous years because of the difficult economic conditions.

Customers usually flock to Fahmi Bik Street in central Gaza City, which connects al-Zawya, Omar Al Mukhtar and Shejaiya markets, considered as the largest ones in the Gaza Strip. However, a large number of citizens only do window shopping without buying anything.

The 27-year-old Ehab Abed Alal came to Zawia market to repair his old clothes in order to wear them in the Eid al-Fitr, because he cannot afford to buy the newest ones.

He has been unemployed since he graduated from the Islamic University. He said that Israel, the Islamic Hamas movement and the Fatah party are responsible for the deteriorating economic and living conditions in the Gaza Strip.

Suhaila Abed, 38 years old, avoids to enter the shops. She prefers to buy the new clothes for her five children from the street stands, which are cheaper than the shops.

She said that she does not have enough money, but her children do not accept to welcome the Eid al-Fitr without wearing new clothes. "They are still young to know the meaning of tough conditions," she told Xinhua.

Shop owners complain of a 25-percent drop in purchasing power this year compared to previous years.

The population of the Gaza Strip suffers from extreme poverty due to the political and economic crises.

Israel imposed a tight blockade on the Gaza Strip right after Hamas violently seized the enclave in 2007. Since then, the economy in the Gaza Strip has been deteriorating with a hard living situation for its people.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority (PA) led by the President Mahmoud Abbas imposed sanctions on the Gaza Strip after the failure of Palestinian reconciliation efforts.

About 50 percent of the salaries of PA's employees were deducted, which led the rise in the poverty rates, economic experts told Xinhua.

Mazen al-Ejla, an economic expert based in Gaza city, said that the high rates of poverty and unemployed, prevent the residents in Gaza to follow their traditions in these days.

The purchasing power in the Eid al-Fitr holidays is supposed to be recovered, but this year, the economic recession is dominating overall the markets in the Gaza Strip, he added.

In February, a report released by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics showed that the unemployment rate in the Gaza Strip reached 52 percent in 2018 compared with 44 percent in 2017.

The report also revealed that about 85 percent of the people in the Gaza Strip live under the poverty line, most of them live on food aids provided by the international donor institutions.

In this economic recession, Chinese goods are the guaranteed salvation for traders because of its "high quality and cheap price," which suit the majority of the population of the Gaza Strip, Salim Ajour, a trader, told Xinhua.

The 62-year-old Ajour, who owns a huge shop selling household items, said that "most of my clients prefer to buy Chinese goods, but the business is very small this year because people here are poor because of the political situation that adversely affected on the economic and living situation." Enditem

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