Ramallah – Muhannad Nairoukh, owner and director of an aluminum accessories factory in… West Bank He imagines that the situation of his facility and his annual profits will become this bad, after Israel began its war on… Gaza strip And the Palestinian territories after an operation Al-Aqsa flood It was implemented by the resistance at the beginning of the last quarter, during which this industrial sector usually reaps its annual profits.
Muhannad, as he told Al Jazeera, employs 30 people in the aluminum accessories company that his father founded in 1993, and all of them are suffering from the political situation and Israel’s war on the Palestinian territories, which prompted him to take measures to reduce expenses in light of the decline in income. He said that his facility is operating at about 40% of its capacity, After reducing production by 60%.
Losses for two months
According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the Palestinian industrial sector suffered losses amounting to billions of dollars in the first months of the war, as all forms of industries stopped in Gaza, while factories and industrial companies suffered major setbacks in the occupied West Bank.
The agency estimated the economic losses in Palestine since the start of Israel’s aggression against the Gaza Strip at about $1.5 billion, as a result of the almost complete cessation of production in Gaza, and the repercussions on the West Bank, equivalent to about $25 million per day, excluding direct losses in property and assets.
The Central Bureau of Statistics report on the industrial sector indicates that the value of production in the first two months of the war amounted to 452,573 dollars in the West Bank, and 11,852 dollars in Gaza, which means that Palestinian production was less than 500,000 dollars.
Production in normal months during the past year in the West Bank was 969,954 dollars, and in Gaza it was 110,715 dollars, with a total of slightly more than a million dollars in Palestine.
As for losses in the first two months of the aggression, they amounted to $407,381 in the West Bank and $98,862 in Gaza, with a total of $506,243 in Palestine, according to the agency’s data.
Nairoukh, a father of two children, says that he was forced to reduce various expenses, and stopped development and restoration of his home, and he may have to reduce additional expenses in the home if the war continues.
Barriers and closures
According to Nairoukh, these conditions resulted in many problems and obstacles in light of the continuation of the war, most notably the Israeli checkpoints and the high costs of internal transportation and shipping between Palestinian and external cities, and the import of raw materials, which increased production costs at a time when demand was declining under the weight of the war.
In terms of distributing products, Muhannad, the owner of the factory that distributes to the outskirts of the West Bank, says that the barriers are the biggest obstacle facing them, as the closure has led to many problems, including the inability of workers to arrive during work hours and their delay if they are able to arrive, in addition to the difficulty of transporting products and goods to merchants and agents in the governorates. .
Truck drivers are forced to use difficult and sometimes dangerous roads, which increases the financial burden on the Muhannad factory, as the trucks often return without delivering the goods as a result of the occupation closing the checkpoints, or they take longer detours to reach the agents and complete the delivery.
The prices of the final product of the aluminum accessories factory rose as a result of importing raw materials from countries, most notably China, Italy, Spain, and Turkey, indicating the closure of ports at the beginning of the war, which raised the cost of materials and thus their prices.
According to Nairoukh, the new conditions led to a delay in the arrival of shipped materials from 20 days to 60 days, and this led to negative repercussions on exports to Jordan and to the Israeli market, especially with the closure of the crossings between West Bank cities and Israel on the one hand and the closure of the border with Jordan.
In this field, Secretary of the Federation of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce in Palestine, Samir Hazboun, told Al Jazeera that the industrial sector, with its backward types, whether extractive or transformational, faces multiple problems, the most prominent of which are the barriers between the governorates, and the second is the imposed closure and thus the difficulty of importing raw materials.
The third obstacle is the high transportation costs, whether internal as a result of the war and checkpoints, or external as a result of the closure of the crossings. The fourth is the difficulty of moving labor between governorates, according to Hazboun, who said that Palestinian industries are now operating at no more than 60% of their production capacity, while The majority of factories operate at between 40 and 50%.
Hazboun pointed to other factors affecting the industry, including the rise in the exchange rate of currencies, especially those used to import raw materials from abroad, and the increased reliance on cash liquidity as a result of banking difficulties in dealing with checks and transfers.
Returning to Nairoukh, he says that production quantities decreased due to the decrease in sales volume, explaining that his factory is part of the construction sector, which has almost completely stopped, and construction operations have stopped even in private buildings and homes, because public sector employees and a large portion of private sector employees do not receive their salaries, and that Palestinian workers in Israel are prevented from returning to work, which has led to a halt in building and construction.
Nairoukh touched on the decrease in debt collection and the increase in the percentage of returned checks from agents and citizens.
Hazboun says that these conditions continue, and after entering the fourth month of the war, Palestinian factories collapsed. In the stone and marble industry sector in the Bethlehem Governorate, only between 30 and 35 factories out of 130 factories are now operating.
Nairoukh says that since the outbreak of the war, his company has borne all employee expenses as a matter of social responsibility, but it will not be able to continue this approach if the war continues, and he will reach a point where he will lay off employees because the conditions have become disastrous.
The factory workers, who work shorter hours, expressed to Al Jazeera their fears that these conditions will continue to affect their livelihood, noting that they are fortunate so far not to lose their work, but they know the seriousness of the situation.
In this regard, Rakan Ibrahim Abu Al-Hour, from one of the villages near Bethlehem, says that he is lucky to work because he has not been laid off yet, and he hopes that conditions will improve quickly.
Regarding the reality of workers and job opportunities, Hazboun concludes his talk by saying that all this difficult reality for the Palestinian industry weakens job opportunities and creates a state of unemployment.