March 18, 2008 / 2:27 PM / 12 years ago

Gazans build graves for shuttered factories

GAZA, March 18 (Reuters) - Palestinians inaugurated a symbolic graveyard on Tuesday for factories forced to close by an Israeli blockade that they say is killing jobs.

"The Main Gaza Cemetery for Factories" contains some 40 graves covered with the Palestinian flags and flowers.

"The Plastic Tools factory, 190 workers became jobless," the inscription on one headstone reads. "The Print House, 150 workers lost their source of living," reads another.

The cemetery was established by the Popular Anti-Siege Committee, a group campaigning against the border restrictions that Israel tightened after Hamas’s violent takeover of the Gaza Strip in June.

Jamal al-Khudary, a Hamas-backed lawmaker and chairman of the committee, said 3,900 factories in Gaza had closed since the blockade began.

Palestinian and foreign agencies have said at least 90,000 Gazans have lost their jobs since June and that unemployment in the territory, home to 1.5 million people, now tops 70 percent.

Israel refuses to deal with Hamas, which has rejected international demands to recognise its right to exist, and has largely kept crossings with the Gaza Strip closed while allowing through humanitarian aid and basic materials. (Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi, Editing by Elizabeth Piper)

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