Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean



UNCTAD estimates the cost of the Israeli occupation of Gaza at $16.7 billion in ten years

UNRWA enables families in Gaza to receive food aid (photo: UNRWA/Khalil Adwan)
UNRWA enables families in Gaza to receive food aid (photo: UNRWA/Khalil Adwan)
PALESTINE / ISRAEL. According to a report released Wednesday, November 25, 2020 by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD/Unctad), "the cumulative economic cost of the Israeli occupation, due solely to the prolonged closure and military operations in Gaza, during the period 2007-2018, is estimated at $16.7 billion (€14.02 billion)".

Submitted to the United Nations General Assembly, the document entitled "Economic Costs of the Israeli Occupation to the Palestinian People: The Gaza Strip under Closure and Restrictions" states that this amount is equivalent to six times the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Gaza in 2018, or 107% of the total Palestinian GDP.

"Without the closure and military operations, the poverty rate in Gaza in 2017 could have been 15%, a little more than a quarter of the current 56%. The poverty gap could have been 4.2%, a fifth of the current 20%," the report said. The UNCTAD therefore insists on the urgency of ending the closure of Gaza "so that its population can trade freely with the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory and with the rest of the world".

Gaza's GDP would be 50% higher without the closure

Some 2 million Palestinians live in the Gaza Strip. "Most of the inhabitants have no access to safe drinking water, a regular and reliable supply of electricity or a proper sewage system," the document notes. It reveals that "between 2007 and 2018, Gaza's regional Palestinian economy grew by less than 5%, and its share in the Palestinian economy increased from 31% to 18% in 2018. As a result, GDP per capita decreased by 27% and unemployment increased by 49%. If Gaza's share in the economy of the occupied Palestinian territory had remained the same as in 2006, Gaza's GDP would be 50% higher than its real level". 

Between 2007 and 2017, the poverty rate in Gaza increased from 40% to 56% and the poverty gap from 14% to 20%. In constant 2015 dollars, "the minimum annual cost to lift people out of poverty quadrupled from $209 million to $838 million".

For Gaza, UNCTAD recommends the lifting of all restrictions on movement and access for the West Bank and the rest of the world. The institution also advocates the construction of seaports and airports as well as water and electricity supply projects. It also calls for the Palestinian government to be allowed to develop oil and natural gas resources off the Gaza Strip. This would allow the recovery of Gaza's regional economy and improve the financial situation of the Palestinian National Authority.

Already in September 2020, a previous UNCTAD report was alarmed at the economic repercussions of Covid-19 on the economy of the Palestinian territories. It indicated that the very existence of the Palestinian Authority was threatened because it does not have the means to cope with the vast economic repercussions of the pandemic.

Eric Apim

Thursday, November 26th 2020

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