“We will not give up”: Palestinians in Gaza rebuild from scratch Business and Economy News


Gaza City – Years of effort, sweat and effort came to Mohammed Abu Matar’s 3D printing company, Tashkeel 3D.

His was the only facility in the entire Gaza Strip capable of manufacturing basic medical supplies such as stethoscopes and tourniquets, items desperately needed by Gaza hospitals, but difficult to achieve with a 14-year Israeli-Egyptian blockade. .

Israel has banned the entry of a large amount of materials and supplies into the Gaza Strip for years because they are classified as “dual-use,” making Abu Matar’s 3D printing a way to evade the blocking i print essential items to save lives at a low cost.

But on May 18 at 6 a.m., Israeli airstrikes flattened the building that houses his laboratory, a tragedy for Abu Matar and his three-person team.

“When I heard the news, all my memories of that place ran before my eyes like a movie. It was my childhood dream, ”Abu Matar, 35, told Al Jazeera.

“Israel does not allow the entry of sophisticated machines or printers into the strip, so we had to start from scratch and build these capabilities on our own. This included material, machines, research that was destroyed. ”

In this 2017 file photo, Abu Matar is seen in Gaza City demonstrating his 3D printed stethoscope [File: Mersiha Gadzo/Al Jazeera]

Unable to import it, Abu Matar and his team built the first 3D printer in Gaza in 2014, scraping spare parts and following open source designs online.

They brought together CNC processing machines and 3D scanners that until then had not been available in Gaza.

Since 2017, Abu Matar estimates that they allocated resources worth more than $ 150,000, but it’s definitely not about money.

“It cost us a lot of research and brain work. It is invaluable, ”Abu Matar said.

Abu Matar and his team had contracts with several clinics and NGOs, including Doctors Without Borders (MSF), who relied on them for 3D-printed medical devices.

“It means the world to me when I know my technology and my projects are helping patients in Gaza,” he said.

The remains of Abu Matar’s laboratory are seen in Gaza City [Courtesy: Mohammed Abu Matar]

A fragile ceasefire has been imposed in Gaza since early Friday after the Strip experienced the worst military assault in recent years, killing at least 248 Palestinians, including 66 children, in Israeli airstrikes.

Many of the commercial and innovative sites targeted by Israeli forces during the 11-day bombing were invaluable resources for the blocked enclave. Israeli forces also destroyed a bookstore belonging to Abu Matar’s father-in-law, who kept rare books unavailable anywhere else in Gaza, Abu Matar said.

“Start from scratch”

In the east of the Gaza Strip, where the industrial zone is located, 18 factories were the subject of Israeli airstrikes, according to Bajes El Dalou, director of his investment department.

Ten factories were destroyed and eight severely damaged, affecting 200 employees who are now out of work, El Dalou told Al Jazeera.

“I do not think there was any intention [for Israeli air attacks to target factories] but to break our will as people and destroy ourselves. We are used to that, ”said El Dalou.

When Nihad al-Sawafiri learned that his furniture business was destroyed on May 17 in the industrial area near the al-Muntar border crossing (known as Karni for Israelis), it was like a dream that disappeared. all of a sudden, ”he said.

Before launching his business, he looked for the safest place in Gaza for his business.

A Palestinian business association informed him that there were international treaties and agreements that had secured the eastern part of Gaza as an area safe from Israeli attacks where companies could grow, Al-Sawafiri told Al Jazeera.

“But even so, it was attacked and I lost my business. Imagine working hard for 30 years and losing it overnight. It is a catastrophe, “al-Sawafiri said.

“I don’t know how long it will take to rebuild the business again, but at least if things go well and the reconstruction money goes back to Gaza, it will take six months to start again from scratch.

“Money and business can be compensated, but human life can’t, so I’m glad we came out alive from this war.”

Palestinian woman cooks while another sits on the rubble of her houses destroyed by Israeli fire in Gaza [Mohammed Salem/Reuters]

“Everything is gone”

Mohammed Fora, 28, owned a barber shop in the eastern district of Shejaiya, Gaza City, which was destroyed by Israeli fighter jets on 16 May.

Fora and her brother started the business to care for her family, including her brother who is physically disabled and in need of constant treatment.

“Now, it’s all gone,” Fora told Al Jazeera.

He will have to rebuild it from scratch, but about 10 years ago it cost him $ 15,000 and it was a difficult process.

“I will wait for the Gaza reconstruction committee to compensate me, but it often takes months, if not years. Right now, my brother and I have been looking for separate manual jobs, such as reconstruction workers. We have to keep going, or we can’t survive, ”Fora said.

“We don’t want anyone to feel sad for us, but at least they let us live. Leave us alone. I’m disappointed [the international community]. It’s just a lip service. If they cared enough, they would have done it [something] a long time ago.”

He noted that his barber shop was destroyed when Israeli airstrikes attacked the cemetery next to it. “Why would you go to the dead? It’s an irony that even the dead don’t feel comfortable,” Fora said.

For Abu Matar, he is only grateful that he and his loved ones survived the attacks.

“During this war, no one expected to come out alive,” he said. “Losing my business, to which my team and I have devoted so much effort and resources, was a great disaster, but human lives are absolutely more precious.”

A crowdfunding page it can help get your lab working again. In 36 hours, donors raised about $ 27,000, more than half of the target amount.

“We were all saddened by the news [when we heard it was destroyed], but we also understand that the seeds of our company were a challenge and a challenge to this occupation, and we will make an extra effort to rebuild what Israel has destroyed, ”Abu Matar said.

“My message is hope and challenge. We will not give up. We will continue and rebuild our company. Gaza is trying to challenge and make the impossible possible. We will. “

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