June 25, 2024

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war with Hamas hits Israel’s economy

2 min read

Before war broke out between Israel and Hamas, Jeremy Welfeld’s brewery in the Israeli town of Emek Hefer produced 50,000 litres of beer a month, while his 14 restaurants around the country drew in thousands of customers each day.

In the two weeks since the conflict erupted, Welfeld’s businesses have ground to a halt. The brewery has produced nothing; 12 of his 14 restaurants are closed; and in one of the two that remain open, just five people came in during lunch hour on Thursday.

“On a normal day it’s between 50 and 150 people. Do you even open a restaurant [in these circumstances]? I can’t afford my overheads,” he said. “I’m not sure how exactly this is going to play out. It might really be the last straw that might bring down the company.”

As the country reels from the deadliest attack on its territory on October 7, companies’ trade on half-empty streets has collapsed.

In Israel, the war has hit a country whose economy has prospered, despite its decades-long conflict with the Palestinians, while the occupied West Bank and hemmed-in Gaza have long been blighted by poverty and unemployment.

The initial shock at Hamas’s assault forced Israel’s bars and restaurants to close, and hundreds of flights to be cancelled. A record mobilisation of military reservists — some 360,000 have been called up — has left businesses that are still open short of staff.

Rocket fire from Palestinian militants in Gaza — and increasing tensions with Iran-backed Hizbollah militants in Lebanon — has prompted large areas on its northern and southern borders to be evacuated.

The war erupted after Hamas, the Palestinian militant group, broke through security barriers around Gaza to launch a multi-faceted attack in southern Israel during which more than 1,400 people were killed, according to Israeli officials.

Israel responded by bombarding Gaza and cutting off water, fuel and power to the strip, causing UN officials to warn that a catastrophic humanitarian crisis…

2023-10-23 00:00:44

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