Every year in the run-up to Christmas, jewelr Melad al-Amash puts gold Santa Claus figurines and miniature Christmas trees on display at his shop in Gaza.
For more coronavirus news, visit our dedicated page.
This year however, the coronavirus pandemic is keeping traditional customers away from the 500-year-old gold market, a narrow lane lined by tiny shops under a vaulted roof. Amash says his business is down by half compared to the same period in 2019.
“It was my grandfather’s profession. He passed it on to my father and my father passed it on to me,” the 27-year-old Palestinian Christian said in his shop.
Members of Gaza’s small Christian community of 1,000 usually snap up the Christmas-themed items, a sideline to his regular
But like many others in Gaza, they are feeling the economic sting of the health crisis and lockdowns. The pandemic has deepened economic hardship in Gaza, which is run by Islamist group Hamas and is under blockade by Israel.
Egypt also imposes border restrictions, citing, as does Israel, security concerns.
“Coronavirus has impacted our work, people are afraid to come to the market. They are also afraid to buy -- they prefer saving their money to buying gold,” Amash said.
Gaza, where two million people live in densely populated neighborhoods, has logged more than 26,000 coronavirus cases and 169 deaths, mostly since August.
Its Christian population has declined by two-thirds over the past 15 years, a wave of emigration fueled by economic struggles and a desire to escape fighting between militant groups and Israel.
“You can’t live in a country at war and in closure, so it is normal to leave and look out for your interests in another country,” Amash said.
Palestine to resume relationship with Israel after monthslong pause: OfficialPalestinian officials announced Monday the resumption of ties with Israel after a monthslong pause following the Middle East peace plan unveiled by ... Middle East
Next four years under Biden ‘crucial’ to Israel-Palestine peace process: ExpertsThe next four years of a Biden presidency will make or break the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, according to Israeli and Palestinian experts.Read ... Features
European powers condemn Israel settlement approvals in PalestineEuropean powers on Friday condemned Israel's decision to approve thousands more settlements in occupied Palestinian territory, calling it a ... World News
Most Palestinians don’t see a Joe Biden presidency as positive: Palestine pollOnly 21 percent of Palestinians believe a Joe Biden presidency will lead to positive policy change, a new poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for ... Middle East
Saudi Arabia supports Palestine but not its leaders, has own interests: Prince BandarSaudi Arabia supports the Palestinian cause but not its leaders and must pay attention to its own interests, said the Kingdom’s former Ambassador to ... Features
Palestine’s Abbas calls on UN to arrange international conference next yearPalestinian president Mahmud Abbas appealed Friday to the United Nations to arrange an international conference on the peace process, in the wake of ... Middle East