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Palestinian Shoe Industry Declines in Hebron

Once boasting a thriving shoe industry, Hebron is struggling to compete with cheap Chinese imports and Israeli control of the economy, Jihan Abdalla reports.
Workers place newly made leather sandals in the storage area of a shoe factory in Hebron June 29, 2010. Cattle owners in Hebron, the West Bank city known for its leather and carpentry industries, have turned to selling hides from cattle slaughtered for meat to shoe manufacturers. The hides are processed at special facilities in the West Bank and the leather is sold to local shoe factories. Picture taken June 29, 2010.  REUTERS/Ammar Awad (WEST BANK - Tags: BUSINESS) - RTR2FY27

HEBRON, West Bank — Once a mainstay of the local economy, Palestinian shoemaking in the West Bank is in decline as businesses struggle to compete with an increasing influx in the local market of cheaper, Chinese-made shoes.

For decades, the city of Hebron was renowned for its skilled cobblers, producing famously comfortable, durable, leather shoes and sandals. According to statistics compiled by the Chamber of Commerce in Hebron, from 1970 until 1990, the city boasted 1,200 lucrative shoe businesses, employing 40,000 people, a third of Hebron’s residents at the time.

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