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The Bulletproof Palestinian Stock Exchange

In the West Bank, the Palestinian stock exchange trades in tiny companies and the prospect of a peaceful future

During the Israeli siege of Nablus in 2002, Mohammad Hijaz hopped fences, hid behind walls, and snuck ambulance rides to get to the Palestinian stock exchange. Operation Defensive Shield shuttered the market as Israeli tanks took positions inside the West Bank city, but Hijaz frequently stole into the office to finish reports.

The Palestine Exchange, known as the PEX, had rented a hotel nearby for employees who live outside the city. Hijaz, who oversees relationships with companies listed on the exchange, would go the week without seeing his wife or children, returning to his home only on weekends. Commuting every day through the multiple Israeli military checkpoints would have been impossible. “We were challenging the occupation at that time for national reasons and to work. At the end, you have to work. For your family, you have to earn money,” Hijaz says over coffee in the bright, glass-enclosed conference room of the bourse’s headquarters in Nablus.