IDF soldiers speak with Palestinians in Hebron last week during the manhunt for three kidnapped Israeli youth..
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Palestinians in and around Hebron said they had paid a heavy price since the beginning of the IDF operation to locate the three kidnapped Israeli youths nearly two weeks ago.
Although the IDF has removed many roadblocks in the area over the past 48 hours, Palestinians said that it would take days or weeks before life returns to normal.
About 20,000 Palestinians from the area have lost their permits to work inside Israel, Ghazi Hirbawi, chairman of the Hebron Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said.
Hirbawi told Palestinian Wattan TV that more than 3,000 merchants and businessmen from the same area have had their permits revoked by Israeli authorities since the kidnapping. He estimated the damage to the local economy at more than $10 million per day.
Hebron is considered a major center for trade and commerce in the West Bank and is famous for its light industry, including many shoe and clothes factories.
Mohammed Shkhaidem, a shopkeeper, complained that his income has dropped by 90 percent as a result of the strict IDF measures.
He pointed out that many Palestinians from different parts of the West Bank, as well as Israeli Arabs who used to do their shopping in the city and nearby villages, have “disappeared” since the beginning of the IDF operation.
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The Palestinian Authority governor of Hebron, Kamel Hmaid, warned that the situation was on the verge of an “explosion” as a result of the IDF operation.
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