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The Palestinian economy: Destruction and escalating suffering

By : Ahmed M. Awad

Jordan Daily – The Palestinian economy is suffering catastrophic consequences due to the ongoing and devastating Israeli war on Gaza and the entrenchment of their occupation of the West Bank. These repercussions manifest in various aspects of Palestinians’ daily lives, ranging from infrastructure destruction to rising unemployment and poverty.

Since the start of the Israeli war on Gaza eight months ago, the murdered toll has risen to around 40 thousand, with thousands missing and 85 thousand injured. This has led to the destruction of the vast majority of infrastructure and buildings in the Strip.

According to United Nations reports, this war has nearly completely destroyed the Palestinian economy, especially in Gaza. This devastation is expected to continue for a long time due to the Israeli occupation forces’ insistence on continuing operations of killing, destruction, ethnic cleansing, and genocide, as part of the settler-colonial acts that have targeted Palestine for over 76 years.

Many specialized UN organizations and other entities, as well as daily observations and stories, document the catastrophic conditions experienced by Palestinians under Israeli occupation, supported by influential Western countries, primarily the United States.

Recently, the International Labour Organization announced that the unemployment rate in Gaza has reached 80% since the start of the Israeli aggression in October of last year, raising the average unemployment rate in the West Bank and Gaza to over 50%. Estimates indicate that the unemployment rate in the West Bank is around 32%. These figures reflect the catastrophic economic reality Palestinians are living in, with poverty expected to rise to 58.4% and the Palestinian economy shrinking by 27% (negative growth) seven months after the war. The situation in Gaza is much worse.

According to a World Bank report, the Israeli war on Gaza caused damage estimated at about $18.5 billion in infrastructure by the end of January – a figure likely doubled now. These losses amount to 97% of the combined GDP of the West Bank and Gaza in 2022. These numbers highlight the extent of the destruction inflicted on the Palestinian economy, which is one of the most significant challenges facing the Palestinian people at present.

The economic destruction is not limited to Gaza but extends to the West Bank, where Zionist settlers continue their assaults on vast areas of land and Palestinians, preventing them from using their lands and engaging in economic activities under the protection of occupation forces, exposing them to killing and arrest. These practices deepen the economic crisis and increase the suffering of Palestinians in the West Bank.

A report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in collaboration with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), released last May, noted that each additional day of war on Gaza imposes increasingly heavy costs on Gaza’s residents and all Palestinians. The report warns that the suffering in Gaza will not end with the cessation of the war but may continue for a long time, emphasizing a severe developmental crisis resulting from massive losses in a short period.

Many international reports have documented Israeli crimes in Gaza and the West Bank, confirming the exacerbation of Palestinians’ suffering on various humanitarian levels, including economic and health. These reports show the brutality the Palestinian people face daily from occupation forces, intensifying the economic and humanitarian crisis they endure.

Palestine is witnessing a catastrophic economic situation due to the destructive Israeli war on Gaza, the reoccupation of the West Bank, and the deepening state of settler-colonialism. This has caused and continues to cause total destruction of infrastructure and unprecedented levels of unemployment and poverty.

Ahmad Awad is the founder and director of the Phenix Center for Economic and Informatics Studies.He contributed this article to the Jordan Daily.

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