GENEVA: Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip cost the Palestinian enclave’s economy an estimated $16.7 billion in just over a decade, the United Nations said on Wednesday.

The coastal enclave has been under an Israeli-enforced blockade since 2007, the year the Islamist movement Hamas took power.

In the 11 ensuing years, 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”.

Published in Dawn, November 26th, 2020

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