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UN official: Israel must end Gaza blockade

Oct. 26, 2009 7:39 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 27, 2009 4:37 P.M.)
Gaza – Ma’an – Israel must immediately open its borders with the Gaza Strip in order to ease Palestinians’ suffering, the top United Nations relief official in Gaza, John Ging, said on Monday.

Ging, the director of operations of the UN Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) in Gaza, said opening the crossings is an urgent priority.

As winter approaches, he said, there will be a critical need for construction materials such as cement and glass in order to rebuild houses, schools, and other buildings that were damaged or destroyed by Israel’s offensive last winter.

Construction materials are among of numerous items Israel bans from entering Gaza. The coastal Strip has been under an Israeli-imposed blockade since June 2007.

At a news conference in the northern Gaza Strip, Ging announced that UNRWA is creating 3,100 temporary jobs in the private sector over the coming six months in order to alleviate unemployment created in part by the Israeli blockade. The jobs are being created in cooperation with factories, contractors and bakeries.

If Israel were to reopen the crossings, Ging noted, 120,000 permanent jobs would be created.

The Jobs are being created in a few factories and workshops that have been repaired since last winter’s Israeli assault, Ging said.

He pointed out that the Gaza Strip used to have 3,900 plants, of which 324 were harmed during the Israeli offensive, while many others were closed because of absence of raw material as a result of the siege.

Billions of dollars were pledged to rebuild Gaza from last winter’s Israeli assault, Ging said, but the blockade has prevented this aid from reaching the Strip.

Explaining Job Creation Program, the coordinator of the Center for the Modernization of Palestinian Industries, Basim Qandil told Ma’an, “Those eligible for these job vacancies will be laborers who have no university certificates along with engineers of all majors, accountants, and other graduates. Graduates who received training within the Job Training Program after 2006, and workers who have no university education whatsoever will be paid 9.5 dollars per day. Graduates who received training before 2006 will be paid 14 dollars per day.”

Factories and workshops where these people will work are the few which have been refurbished after the war, according to Ging. He pointed out that the Gaza Strip used to have 3900 plants, of which 324 were harmed during the Israeli military offensive, while several others were closed because of absence of raw material due to the crippling siege.

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