Feature: Gaza livestock sellers face heavy losses amid economic woes, pandemic

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, July 23, 2020
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by Sanaa Kamal

GAZA, July 23 (Xinhua) -- Mohammed al-Quraan, a livestock seller from the Gaza Strip, complained about poor business ahead of this year's Eid al-Adha holiday, during which the well-to-do Muslims slaughter sacrificial animal.

"I only sold three heads of cattle in the past four days," al-Quraan, who lives in the central Gaza Strip, told Xinhua.

The father of 10 lamented the heavy losses he has been seeing due to the economic recession, noting that he used to sell more than 20 heads of livestock during Eid Al-Adha season.

Eid al-Adha, or the feast of sacrifice, falls at the end of this month when Muslims will slaughter sheep, goats, camels or calves.

The spread of the coronavirus in Gaza has overshadowed the preparations for the feast as it has severely damaged the already sluggish economy of the Israeli-blockaded territory.

Livestock merchants complain about the stagnating sales in the Gaza markets due to the reluctance of customers to purchase sacrificial animals under severe economic conditions.

Al-Quraan explained that he had to sell his livestock on installments. However, he said there are still few buyers.

"People suffer financially even before the coronavirus outbreak," al-Quraan said, adding that merchants had to reduce the prices to attract customers.

Dozens of local livestock sellers gathered at Dir al-Balah livestock market in the central Gaza Strip, waiting for long hours under the burning sun to sell a few heads of sheep.

"I cannot believe that I have only sold 15 out of 250 calves in my farm," said 50-year-old Mazen Shuheiber, owner of a farm in the southern Gaza Strip.

"Although we reduced prices and adopted an installment payment mechanism, we are still unable to achieve the minimum profits."

Buying sacrificial animals on installments has been increased notably over the past few years, mainly after Israel tightened the blockade it has been imposing on Gaza since the Islamic Hamas movement took over the seaside enclave by force in 2007.

Nasr al-Mussadar, a Gaza resident in his 60s, said he only bought one sheep this year, adding that he used to buy up to three heads of sheep every year.

"The economic recession caused by the spread of COVID-19 and the Israeli blockade have hampered peoples' ability to buy livestock for sacrifice," the man told Xinhua.

The Hamas-run ministry of agriculture in Gaza announced that livestock farms currently have 12,000 calves and about 25,000 to 30,000 sheep, which is enough to meet the coastal strip's needs.

According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the unemployment rate in Gaza hit 56 percent. Figures of a Gaza-based committee resisting the Israeli blockade showed that around 83 percent of the Gaza Strip's 2 million population live below the poverty line. Enditem

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