Al-Awda Factory, located in Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip, has manufactured sweets since 1977. Over the years it expanded to manufacture biscuits, ice cream, pretzels and krembos (a chocolate-marshmallow sweet), employing 400 workers in three shifts, 24 hours a day. In the past, 60% of the factory’s products were sold in the West Bank, 5% in Israel and 35% on the local market in Gaza. In 2004, two loaded trucks left the Gaza Strip daily with 30 tons of the factory’s products, for sale in the West Bank.
Factory owner Mohammed al-Tilbani says that on May 30, 2007, the last truck left his factory for the West Bank. Since the closure of Gaza was tightened in June that year, his trade with the West Bank stopped. Merchants in the West Bank, who used to buy ice cream and biscuits from the al-Awda factory, began buying those products mainly from Israel, while others started importing them from Jordan and Turkey.
The factory decreased its operations, working an average of ten days per month and operating one production line, out of the five that were used in the past. Sixty-five percent of the factory’s normal production ceased because its products cannot be sold in Israel or the West Bank like before. It therefore has to confine itself to manufacturing 35% of its total production capacity for sale on the local market in Gaza.
From June 2007 to June 2010, the al-Awda factory was unable to obtain raw materials for manufacture, because of the ban on their transfer to the Gaza Strip. Today, due to Israel’s “easing” of the closure, Mohammed al-Tilbani can buy the raw materials he needs for his factory, but he still cannot sell a considerable part of his products in the West Bank. The al-Awda factory would be able to resume trade with Israel and the West Bank if the restrictions on the export of goods from the Gaza Strip were lifted.
More on the Al-Awda Factory:
To read the report “Commercial Closure: Deleting Gaza’s Economy from the Map”, July 2007, click here.
To read the post “How does the ban on exports from the Gaza Strip affect Tahseen al-Isi’s furniture factory?”, September 2, 2010, click here.
To read the post “For Gaza tailors, market is flooded and external markets are banned”, August 26, 2010, click here.
To play the interactive animation Safe Passage, click here.
To read a position paper on the harm to trade between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank as a result of the separation policy, click here.
To read Gisha’s response to the Cabinet announcement allowing limited Gaza “export”, December 2010, click here.