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Gaza unemployment rate hits 43 percent
Monday October 28, 2013 7:24 PM, IINA

The Hamas government yesterday said that unemployment rate in Gaza Strip reached 43 percent due to Israeli siege.

Hatim Owaidah, the Deputy Minister of Economy in the Hamas government, said that the siege that Israeli imposed on Gaza Strip "badly affected all sectors of production."

Owaidah added that the production rate reached 10.5 percent, compared to 13.5 percent in 2012. The official added that the government is incapable of absorbing the thousands of young men and women who graduate every year.

Israel imposed an economic siege on Gaza Strip in June 2006 when Hamas-led armed groups kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in a cross border raid near the enclave. It tightened the siege in June 2007, when Hamas routed President Mahmoud Abbas' security forces and ousted his Fatah movement from the area.

Israel says the measures against Gaza are necessary to stop weapons smuggling and to put pressure on Hamas, but the UN insists the restrictions amount to collective punishment of Gaza's population.

The restrictions was eased by Israel last year in response to international pressure, after nine Turkish activists were killed in clashes with Israeli troops who boarded their aid flotilla which was trying to break the blockade. Israel and the West consider Hamas a terrorist movement.

The Quartet, which comprises the US, the EU, the UN and Russia, has asked Hamas to recognize Israel, accept peace deals and abandon violence in exchange for an international recognition of the movement.

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