Gaza factory manufactures Israel's coronavirus protective gear

Despite rising demand, Bawab said that he has yet to receive orders from the Palestinian market in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

A Palestinian worker makes a protective suit at a factory amid concerns over the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), east of Gaza City March 29, 2020 (photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMMED SALEM)
A Palestinian worker makes a protective suit at a factory amid concerns over the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), east of Gaza City March 29, 2020
(photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMMED SALEM)
Gaza's Unipal factory was transformed to produce around 20,000 surgical masks per day, all of which are delivered to Israel, Ynet reported on Wednesday.

The factory, which usually manufactures clothes for Israel's fashion industry, was heavily impacted by the lockdown measures taken by the cabinet in order to stop the coronavirus outbreak in Israel, according to Ynet. 

The new regulations, which have shut down the fashion industry completely, stopped all orders from the Strip, forcing the factory's owner, Nabil Bawab, to seek ways to save his business.
"I have 850 workers at the factory," Bawab told Ynet. 

"Instead of shutting down the factory, we decided to transform it, reaching two goals: continuing to provide for hundreds of families in Gaza, and assisting the public by expanding the supply of masks and protective gear amid rising demand," he said.

The factory manufactures around 20,000 face masks and some 2,000 protective suits daily, with all of its medical production delivered to Israel. Bawab told Ynet that, although the amount of Israeli importers he has signed contracts with is rising, the product is not provided to Israeli hospitals directly.

"The economy collapsed at once because of the crisis and people are looking for sources of income," Bawab explained. "Many of them took this direction and are ordering the masks through us." According to Bawab, the factory works in accordance with the official restrictions.

"We work in shifts with 200 workers per shift so as not to cause excessive density in the factory," he told Ynet. "We have a professional team that sprays and sanitizes the factory once every two hours," he continued, saying that "our workers change their gloves and protective gear several times every shift."

Despite rising demand, Bawab said that he has yet to receive orders from the Palestinian market in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. 

"No Palestinian importer has yet made an order through us asking to manufacture masks," Bawab told Ynet. "There are [business] negotiations with international organizations in Gaza to produce masks but we are yet to have reached an agreement."

Gazans are only allowed to trade with Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Since Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in a violent revolt in June 2007, Israel has declared the strip a "hostile territory," placing it under blockade.