There is a building boom taking place now in Gaza, despite the blockade Israel has imposed on the Strip since Hamas took power there. The boom is due in part to an intricate network of tunnels dug into the sandy soil reaching from Gaza, extending over the international border, and ending in Egypt.
Israel Allows Construction of Houses, Schools and Factories
There are said to be hundreds of tunnels, supplementing the building materials that Israel is already allowing into Gaza by more ordinary means. Israel allows construction material into Gaza for use by international relief agencies to construct houses, schools and other urgently needed buildings. Recently Israel relaxed their requirements and has also allowed limited amounts of building materials to be used for the construction of factories. Many factories were destroyed in 2009 during a large military offensive there by Israeli forces in an effort to reduce or silence the number of Scud rockets being shot over the border into Israeli territory.
Economic Relief in 2011
A UN report on the Gazan economy stated that despite the fact that for the past decade the economy in Gaza has been severely depressed, developments during the first half of 2011 have brought some margin of relief.
“Employment jumped by more than 47,000 jobs in first-half 2011, or 24.7 percent, to an estimated 237,475. The broad unemployment rate declined to 32.9 percent from 45.2 percent in second-half 2010,” the report said.
Tunnels Still Useful
“Despite the easing of restrictions on the Israeli-imposed blockade, tight controls of the crossings from Israel into Gaza are a significant factor behind the growth in the tunnel economy,” said Chris Gunness, spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinians (UNRWA).
The Gazan citizens say that the tunnels allow them to satisfy all of their needs, “from the needle to the rocket.”