BEACH REFUGEE CAMP, GAZA— Amir Arafat is shopping for his family. He has nothing better to do. Since he returned to Gaza 18 months ago with a degree in computer science from a U.S. university, he has not been able to find a job.
“The economy is pretty tough around here. There’s no room for new innovations, technologies, because you don’t know what tomorrow’s going to bring," Arafat said. "There could be no electricity and, especially in the technology industry, you need electricity.”
Fuel is in short supply and expensive when available. There are frequent power blackouts and people can afford only basic necessities.
The crisis worsened recently after Egyptian security forces destroyed hundreds of smuggling tunnels as part of a crackdown on militant attacks in the Sinai Peninsula.
Unemployment was already 40 percent in Gaza, 50 percent for young people. Hamas, which governs Gaza, says the tunnel closures have thrown 20,000 more people out of work and cost the economy $400 million.
“This is only the beginning," Arafat says. "Everything [the tunnels]has been closed for a couple of months now. So, who knows, six months down the road if everything stays the same, everything [prices] will keep going up.”
Arafat hopes conditions eventually will improve. After all, he says, what goes down must eventually come up.