In Gaza, even scrap metal collection has its hazards.
OCHA reminds us this week in its monitor of the “buffer zone” in place inside Gaza, an area in which the Israeli military prevents Gaza residents from getting within 300 meters of the border between Israel and Gaza – even those trying to earn an unlikely livelihood. This week, OCHA reports, Israeli soldiers entered Gaza and arrested 10 Palestinian civilians who were collecting scrap metal near the border; they were later released.
Arrests in this area and sporadic incursions are of course a clear reminder to Gaza residents that Israel still exercises control over their lives, even if control over the movement of goods and people, felt via an invisible hand, has a greater effect on their lives.
A ban on the entrance of raw materials, for example, has closed factories and contributed to Gaza’s X% unemployment rate – which may have driven those 10 people to risk nearing the border for the few shekels they could earn selling scrap metal. Other job-seekers are looking to the public sector, as the Hamas government is one of the few employers hiring. It was reported last week that 14,000 candidates responded to a call for 1,000 positions in the police – also a risk, given the fact that civilian police have been targeted in Israeli airstrikes.
These job-seekers in Gaza may not have dreamed of a career in metals-trading or law enforcement, but without the raw materials necessary to engage in gainful production – it looks like they will risk their lives to pursue it.