Fri 02 Jun 2023 8:02 pm - Jerusalem Time
Nablus in dire economic straits in shadow of Israeli escalation
The Nablus governorate is experiencing significant economic stagnation due to measures imposed by the Israeli occupation, which continues its military siege and incursions into the city, as well as obstructing the movement of citizens at the checkpoints spread in its vicinity.
The governorate’s markets have seen a significant decrease footfall as a result of the blockade, which was already suffering from the severe effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
Many merchants complain about this general situation, which is witnessing an unprecedented state of deterioration, which affected the commercial movement in the markets, which have always been crowded with visitors and shoppers from outside the governorate, and the purchasing power of citizens in them has declined.
The owner of a clothing store in Khan al-Tujar, Bassam Abu Zaid, told Al-Quds that he was dissatisfied with the difficult conditions in the city's markets, especially in the Old City.
Between the COVID pandemic and intensifying Israeli raids, Abu Zaid said that the area has undergone a very difficult period. However, he said that the markets in the Old City are seeing a slight improvement, with more workers and shoppers arriving from Nablus.
He added, "Before those difficult security conditions, I used to go to work in the shop from eight o'clock in the morning, but now I am late until ten o'clock and close it before sunset for fear of any intrusion. I also reduced the number of my employees as a result of the lack of buying and selling."
This was also confirmed by the merchant, Abu Sameh, who owns a shop in Khan al-Tijjar in the city center, indicating that the purchasing movement has reached its lowest level in light of these political conditions, which were reflected in the movement of buying and selling within the Old City in particular, and the Nablus governorate in general.
Nablus Governorate is considered a vital center in the north of the West Bank, and it contains many governmental and private institutions, universities, and thousands of economic establishments, and it relies heavily on domestic tourism. And their fear of the events taking place, according to what the owner of Al-Aqsa sweets shop in the Old City, Basil Al-Shantir, explained.
And Al-Shanter continues: "In light of these circumstances, everyone seeks to secure the basic requirements of his life and dispense with his other recreational desires, such as roaming in the markets, shops and restaurants, even Kunafa, although it is considered one of the meals, has become a secondary requirement and a kind of luxury, as people's demand for it has decreased compared to the past." ".
A member of the Board of Directors of the Nablus Chamber of Commerce and its media spokesperson, Yassin Dweikat, told Al-Quds.com: “Fear is the main enemy of commercial activity, and this deteriorating economic situation has not been witnessed in Nablus for decades, and behind it stands the siege of the occupation imposed on the city, its villages and its camps, in addition to To the continuous invasions, and settler attacks on the main streets of the surrounding villages, which greatly reduced the commercial activity of shoppers from the various governorates and the occupied 48 lands.
He continues, "The downturn in the economic situation in Nablus is also caused by compound and cumulative factors, which greatly affected the purchasing power in the markets, as well as the financial blockade of the Palestinian Authority, which led to a reduction in employee salaries, and its inability to pay suppliers' dues."
Dwaikat talked about the percentage of economic losses incurred by various sectors in the governorate, as confirmed by the Chamber's survey rounds since the beginning of this year until now, indicating that the commercial movement has lost 75% of its activity.
The percentage of returned (bounced) checks in the Nabulsi market increased significantly compared to other governorates, which amounted to $80 million out of a total of approximately $330 million checks, according to data from the Monetary Authority, which Dweikat referred to.
The representative of the furniture sector in the province, Saher Baara, also expressed his dissatisfaction with this noticeable decline in various sectors, especially furnishings and furniture, which is considered a secondary requirement for shoppers, stressing the need for concerted efforts of all institutions in the province to get out of this crisis and mitigate its severity.
Dwaikat drew attention to the efforts made by the Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the institutions and activities of the governorate, to communicate with the Palestinian government, which in turn pressures the international community to lift the siege on the governorate.
And he added, "The Chamber also seeks to market the governorate, mitigate the impact of the siege on it, and enhance the steadfastness of its people in cooperation with other institutions, by encouraging citizens from different regions to visit it, especially the 48 Palestinians, and by providing paid buses, as well as promoting campaigns such as "Yalla to Nablus." In addition to organizing the city and providing public facilities in it in cooperation with the municipality, and publishing videos about the city, its markets and streets through social media, with the aim of attracting the largest possible number of visitors and shoppers.