Source AP ©

Cell phone company Jawwal in Palestine reports its millionth customer

Palestinian cellular phone company Jawwal , founded in 1999, has signed up its one-millionth subscriber.

Jawwal is one of the largest companies in the West Bank and Gaza. Jawwal has been the only Palestinian cell phone company since its founding in 1999, but a license was recently awarded to a competitor.

Also, about 30 percent of the residents of the West Bank and Gaza use Israeli cell phones, said the director of Jawwal, Ammar Aker.

Jawwal is part of the telecommunications company Paltel. The head of Paltel, Abdel Malek Jaber, told a news conference Thursday that Jawwal reached the level of 1 million customers despite often difficult circumstances, noting that Israel delayed delivery of some equipment and that some of the operations are run from London.

Economist Nasser Abdelkarim said the Palestinian information technology sector has growth potential because of the presence of a skilled labor force, and because the sector cannot be hampered by Israeli checkpoints that cover the West Bank.

Manufacturing and trade have been severely stifled by Israel's travel restrictions, imposed in 2000, at the start of the second Palestinian uprising. Israel says it needs the roadblocks and restrictions to protect itself from Palestinian militants. Over the past six years of conflict, more than 400 Israelis have been killed in Palestinian suicide bombing attacks that originated from the West Bank.