Gaza has experienced ‘16 years of de-development’: UN

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The Gaza Strip has lived through 16 years of de-development, the United Nations said Wednesday, adding that the economic consequences of the Israel-Hamas war were “impossible to determine.”

“Gaza has experienced 16 years of de-development and suppressed human potential and the right to development,” the UN’s UNCTAD trade and development agency said in an annual report on the Palestinian economy.

While the report focused on 2022, during a press conference UNCTAD officials could not ignore the current conflict.

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Israel launched withering strikes on Gaza in response to an unprecedented cross-border attack by Hamas militants who, while launching a massive rocket barrage, killed more than 1,400 people and took 222 hostages on October 7, according to Israeli authorities.

Israeli bombing has now killed more than 5,800 people in Gaza, many of them children, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

“The economic consequences of the current and ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza are impossible to determine,” Richard Kozul-Wright, the director of UNCTAD’s globalization and development strategies division, told a press conference.

“What the report does document is the profound economic challenges facing a community under occupation, which in the case of Gaza is compounded by an economic blockade which began in 2007, along with intermittent military operations.”

The report on the state of the Palestinian economy in 2022 said the Gazan economy had been “hollowed” out, with 80 percent of the enclave’s population dependent on international aid.

“With heightened political tensions and a long-stalled peace process, 2022 was one of the worst years for Palestinians in recent history,” the report said.

It said the Palestinian economy had also been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Even though the Palestinian GDP grew by 3.9 percent in 2022, per capita real GDP was still 8.6 percent below its 2019 pre-pandemic level. In Gaza, real GDP per capita was 11.7 percent below the 2019 level and close to its lowest level since 1994,” the report said.

Palestinian GDP per capita is “currently at just eight percent of that of Israel,” the report added.

UNCTAD said that unemployment was at 45 percent in the Gaza Strip and 13 percent in the West Bank, with women and young people affected the most.

“The vicious circle of destruction and partial reconstruction needs to be broken by negotiating a peaceful solution, based on international law, and relevant UN and Security Council resolutions, to end hostilities, and by increasing donor support for the recovery of the war-torn economy,” the report concluded.

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