Gaza's garment industry boosted by coronavirus and unlikely demand from Israel

Just like people, places can have underlying vulnerabilities, and it looked like poor, congested Gaza would be fertile ground for coronavirus.

And yet oddly, the isolated strip sandwiched between Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean, is doing okay, thank you very much.

Strict border restrictions in place for years have largely kept Covid-19 at bay.

And, as luck would have it, an important component of Gaza’s battered economy has been rejuvenated by the crisis.

Gaza’s garment industry, which has been mostly dormant for more than a decade, is now churning out protective equipment like face masks and surgical gowns.

Gaza's garment industry has been boosted during the coronavirus outbreak. Credit: ITV News

And the biggest customer is Israel, the country most Gazans regard as the enemy.

Earlier this year, BC (before coronavirus), both sides were regularly trading pot shots over the border. Now truckloads of masks and other PPE is making the crossing along the border.

  • Factory workers produce PPE equipment to help protect people from coronavirus

So how do workers in the Gaza factories feel about making life-saving stuff for erstwhile foes?

“This is a humanitarian issue. There is no difference between Jews and Arabs,” said Mohammad, a tailor in the Hassanco textile factory in Gaza City.

Gaza’s tailors have a fine reputation. That, coupled with proximity, use of the same currency, and low costs, make Gaza’s factories the perfect choice for the Israelis.

Hassan Shehada is a factory owner and thinks the business he is doing bodes well for the future.

  • Factory owner Hassan Shehada explains why his business is booming

“Both sides will re-think. We want to eat and they want safety and security. I am hopeful things will get better,” he told ITV News.

Given that their long-running conflict has cost many lives it’s ironic that Israelis and Gazans have found common cause in life-saving gear.

For both sides coronavirus has been novel indeed – they discovered they needed each other.

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know: