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Sat Apr 25, 2020, 07:29 PM

Gaza factories roar back to life to make protective wear

For the first time in years, sewing factories in the Gaza Strip are back to working at full capacity — producing masks, gloves and protective gowns, some of which are bound for Israel.

It's a rare economic lifeline in the coastal territory, which has been blockaded by Israel and Egypt since the Hamas militant group seized power from rival Palestinian forces in the strip in 2007. The blockade, and three wars between Hamas and Israel, have devastated the local economy, with unemployment hovering around 50%.

But the sudden opportunity also shows how Gaza's economy is at the mercy of those enforcing the blockade — and how depressed wages have become. Workers earn as little as $8 a day.

Rizq al-Madhoun, owner of the Bahaa garment company, said he has produced more than 1 million masks in the past three weeks, “all for the Israeli market.”

Gaza may not have the advanced machinery seen in other places, but he said residents' sewing skills are unmatched. "Gaza workers are distinguished in handiwork and they are better than workers in China or Turkey," he said.

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