Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip has pushed more than one million people below the poverty line in just over 10 years and cost the enclave over $16bn, a UN report has warned.
In the 11 years since Israel imposed its blockade on the strip – following the victory of Hamas in the 2006 elections – its economic situation deteriorated dramatically, the UN Conference on Trade and Development found in a new report.
Between 2007 and 2018, “the estimated cumulative economic cost of the Israeli occupation in Gaza under the prolonged closure and severe economic and movement restrictions and military operations would amount to $16.7 billion (constant 2015 US dollars),” it said.
This was equivalent to six times the value of Gaza’s gross domestic product in 2018, or 107 percent of the total Palestinian GDP, including the West Bank, it said.
The result, the UN agency said, was that, “Gaza has witnessed one of the worst economic performances globally.”
In its report to the UN General Assembly, UNCTAD found Gaza’s economy grew by less than five percent between 2007 and 2018.
At the same time, its per capita GDP shrank by 27 percent and unemployment soared by 49 percent.
Given the “near-collapse of Gaza’s regional economy and its isolation”, UNCTAD stressed the “urgent need to end the closure of Gaza so that its people can freely trade with the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory and the world”.
Without the opening up that would facilitate a more formal economy, “it is extremely difficult to see anything but de-development being the fate of Gazan society,” said Richard Kozul-Wright, the director of UNCTAD’s globalisation and development strategies.