Renewed Hamas Rockets Put End to Israeli Tourism, Retail Revival

10-day period of calm saw Israelis returning to stores, restaurants, cafes and hotels in expectation of permanent cease-fire.

Ofer Vaknin

The resumption of rocket attacks by Hamas starting on Tuesday put an abrupt end to the recovery of the retail and tourism sectors in Israel.

Danny Mishel, CEO of the Aroma Israel café chain, said sales at his Ashdod and Ashkelon branches drooped 30% to 40% on Wednesday. “No doubt a lot of businesses in the south will go bankrupt,” he said. “We’re strong enough to cope with a war of attrition like this, but we’ll have to adjust, such as by reducing investment.”

Elran Ziv, who is the coowner of an apparel chain, Duty Moti, with outlets in Ashdod, Ashkelon, Be’er Sheva and Eilat, said sales were down 25% on Wednesday. What he fears most, he said, was a lengthy war.

“It means we won’t be able to do any planning and the damage will be enormous. We need to get ready for the winter season, but we don’t know what to do. There’s no certainty,” Ziv said.

The rocket attacks, and Israeli retaliation, ended a 10-day period of calm that had seen Israelis returning to stores, restaurants, cafes and hotels in expectation that Operation Protective Edge would ended in a permanent cease-fire.

Eshet Tours reported on Wednesday a 20% drop in reservations compared to two days earlier, with cancellations not only of vacations in August but also those planned for the High Holiday period in September and October.

Other travel companies reported drops of up to 30%.

“After the cease-fire we saw a rise of about 100% in reservations compared to the war days. Yesterday we saw a drop of 25% from the day before in the number of calls to our Easy Go Tourism & Holiday phone reservations center,” said Yoav Karni of the Signal Tours group.