Palestinian children play as a girl held by her mother looks out of the window of house in the northern Gaza Strip February 12, 2018. Picture taken February 12, 2018. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem
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The man who makes crisps, chocolate and vanilla snacks for Gaza had just finished explaining how his business was going through the worst economic crisis of his life when the lights went out, shutting down his factory.Wael al-Wadiya has been running his food manufacturing business since 1985 – in a Gaza Strip that was very different from the one in which he and 2 million other Palestinians now live.Back then Israeli settlers were still in Gaza, the group Hamas did not yet exist, and Palestinians were still two years away from the first of the uprisings against Israeli military occupation that introduced the word "Intifada" to the world.There has long been poverty in Gaza, but with unemployment now at 43.6 percent, according to the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics, even once-wealthy merchants are defaulting on debts, causing other businesses to collapse, like dominoes.Gazans also fault their own leaders, complaining of a power struggle between Hamas, which came into power in Gaza in 2007, and Fatah, the secular party of Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
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