A major goal of Israel’s blockade of Gaza has been to weaken the power of Hamas in the eyes of Palestinians. Ironically, the tighter and more extensive is the blockade, the greater the power and influence of Hamas among people in Gaza. The Hamas de factor government is one of the only employers in Gaza with a growing payroll in an economy which offers scant opportunities for employment to people. A new UN report shows more than 52% of
Gaza households have now plunged below the internationally-designated poverty line despite humanitarian assistance. Unemployment has now reached 45%. The UN Relief and Works Agency(UNRWA) noted 19% are living in poverty in the West Bank and in all Palestinian territory, the unemployment rate is 29%. The only increase in jobs in the Gaza Strip came from Hamas.
The report cites anecdotal evidence to reinforce the impact of the Israel blockade which has created unemployment and forced hundreds to seek employment in Hamas organizations including the militia. As an UNRWA official noted: “If you deprive young people of an economic future, you deprive them of hope and when hope vanishes, what is left? How better to prevent despair and economic misery taking hold of a whole population than to re-open Gaza’s borders?”