Palestinian families count the cost of soaring prices in West Bank ahead of Eid

Palestinian families count the cost of soaring prices in West Bank ahead of Eid
In previous years, shops in Ramallah were much more crowded and bustling during the days leading up to Eid Al-Adha than they are this year. (Photo by Mohammed Najib)
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Updated 06 July 2022

Palestinian families count the cost of soaring prices in West Bank ahead of Eid

Palestinian families count the cost of soaring prices in West Bank ahead of Eid
  • Stores are quiet and purchases are significantly down this year amid public-sector wage cuts and spiraling costs

RAMALLAH: Father-of-eight Mustafa Al-Hadidi, a 48-year-old working man from Ramallah, fears he will not be able to properly participate in Eid Al-Adha celebrations or complete traditional seasonal rituals this year.

His fears seem justified. Prices have soared in recent weeks in the Palestinian Territories, which is now considered one of the most expensive places in the Arab world. The cost of a sheep for sacrifice, for example, has reached $500 in the West Bank. Al-Hadidi said that the spiraling prices are even causing family arguments that sometimes end in families breaking up.

“There is more than one case of divorce that occurred due to family problems caused by high prices, so that the head of the family was unable to provide for the needs of his family members, which fuels problems inside the house until the matter ends in divorce,” he told Arab News.

Al-Hadidi said that the rising prices of Eid Al-Adha supplies mean that families are having to find at least $300 extra to pay for them compared with last year.

“Ramallah has become the most expensive city in the world,” he added, as he accused Palestinian leaders of not doing enough to curb the greed of merchants and control prices.

“The Palestinian government is subordinate to Israel in terms of raising prices and if I were of the new generation, I would have left the country and emigrated.”

According to Al-Hadidi, the Palestinian Authority appears to be indifferent about the rising prices as many of the agencies that import food items have close ties to senior officials within the authority.

After the announcement last month by the PA that public-sector workers would only receive partial wages, Al-Hadidi questioned how they can possibly live on only 70 or 80 percent of already meager salaries.

He pointed out that in previous years, Ramallah was much more crowded and bustling during the days leading up to Eid Al-Adha than it is this year.

Hashem Ibrahim, 58, who owns what he says is the oldest grocery store near Al-Manara roundabout in central Ramallah, told Arab News that Eid purchases are down by about 60 percent compared with last year.

“Citizens’ demand for purchases is deficient and this is limited to purchasing only the necessary items,” he said, adding that rising prices and the delay by the PA in paying salaries to public-sector workers in June have contributed to the fall in trade.

Jihad Abu Eid, the owner of Al-Amin butcher’s shop in Ramallah, told Arab News that demand for meat and sacrifices for Eid Al-Adha is very low this year. He added that he has resisted increasing his prices in the hope that this would attract customers.

He explained that he is absorbing much of the increased cost of meat, with the price of a cow rising by $430.

According to economist Nasr Abdel Karim: “The Palestinian economic crisis is a complex situation that is linked to different circumstances that affect it directly and indirectly, such as the Ukrainian-Russian war which has indirectly affected the economy through the joint trade channel with Ukraine, in addition to the clear and significant impact of the Israeli-occupation policies followed by the Palestinian government.”

Mohammad Shaheen, a spokesperson for the Consumer Protection Association, said that the suggested measures to ease the retail crisis do not fall only on the government alone but also on consumers, who must adjust to a new shopping culture in which they adjust their retail habits to match their incomes and purchasing power.

Ibrahim Al-Qadi, the head of consumer protection at the Palestinian Ministry of National Economy, said efforts are being made to control rising prices, either by sourcing local products as an alternative to import, or through assistance from neighboring countries that can quickly and easily supply the Palestinian market.

Ibrahim Melhem, a spokesperson for the PA, told Arab News: “The government has paid $43 million to support basic commodities such as fuel, electricity and foodstuffs, and has tightened control over merchants and called on them not to raise prices, to mitigate the repercussions of the global food crisis on the local Palestinian market.”