Gaza border business owners seek economic boost in Tel Aviv

The escalation in violence on the Israel-Gaza Strip border caught the attention of the world‘s media in recent months, overwhelmingly drawn to powerful images of bloodshed and terror in fierce clashes along the border fence.

Beyond the camera crews focused on the border fence, however, lies a raft of small and medium-size businesses struggling to stay afloat as many Israelis have opted to stay away from Gaza border communities during the usually-busy summer period.

Be the first to know –

Seeking to counter the loss of income suffered in recent months, more than 60 business owners from Gaza border communities gathered at Tel Aviv Port this week at the "Otef b‘Kef" fair organized by the Ministry of Economy and Industry to boost the local economy and encourage residents of central and northern Israel to return to the region as calm is restored.

Miriam and Eli Sadeh, owners of Mavoch Miriam, a maze-like sensory experience of spices and shrubs in Nir Moshe, filled their stand with aromatic bags of leaves and herbs.

"Despite the calm, people are still not visiting our business. Residents of central Israel are hesitating to return because they perceive the current situation to be a form of ‘nervous quiet‘," Miriam told The Jerusalem Post, adding that the business she manages with her husband primarily offers guided tours to families, visiting groups and schools

"Those coming to stay in holiday accommodation in the area would also visit us. The moment that people decide not to holiday in the region, they also don‘t come to our business.

"We‘re living there, it‘s our choice," said Miriam. "We‘re bringing our products to central Israel, so the residents here can enjoy it."

(function(w,d,s,i){w.ldAdInit=w.ldAdInit||[];w.ldAdInit.push({slot:6086,size:[0, 0],id:”ld-9628-9059″});if(!d.getElementById(i)){var j=d.createElement(s),p=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];j.async=true;j.src=”//cdn2.lockerdomecdn/_js/ajs.js”;j.id=i;p.parentNode.insertBefore(j,p);}})(window,document,”script”,”ld-ajs”);

Standing behind a table piled high with micro-brewery beers produced southern Israel, Hen Vaknin, owner of Pub Sderot, and his colleague Eran Ben-Gal said their business‘s success was primarily dependent on students. The pub, they said, fortunately avoided most loss of income as the majority of their regular customers were absent during the summer break anyway.

"We can‘t bring what we usually serve at the bar. Instead we have brought a range of beers from breweries in the area, from Kiryat Gat, Sderot and Beersheba," Vaknin told the Post.

Although rounds of violence have the potential to harm business, Vaknin added that they can also have a uniting effect.

"It‘s sometimes the opposite, when there‘s a round of violence people want to be together. But sometimes you don‘t even see a dog walk by the bar."

Other business owners attending the fair included olive oil and honey producers, cheese makers, artists, and quad bike tour operators.

"The situation isn‘t good for us. We‘ve come here to present ourselves to the public," said Gal Miles from Be‘eri Dairy Farm, an award-winning cheese business located approximately seven kilometers from the Gaza Strip border.

Organizers are planning a second fair to support Gaza border community businesses on September 26 and 27 in Sderot.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content.