More than half of the buildings in the Gaza Strip have been damaged or completely destroyed and the tiny Palestinian enclave is now “uninhabitable” after nearly four months of Israel's war against of Hamas, the UN estimated on Wednesday.
Tens of billions of dollars will need to be spent to make the narrow strip of land viable again, stresses a preliminary report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (CNUCED in French, UNCTAD in English).
Researchers agency assessed the extent of the devastation based mostly on high-resolution satellite photos, comparing images from before Oct. 7 with those after — after Israel began pounding the Gaza Strip relentlessly in retaliation for Hamas's assault on its territory.
Data collection for the report stopped at the end of November, about two months after the conflict broke out.
By then, 37,379 buildings — or roughly 18% of the total in the Gaza Strip — had been damaged or completely destroyed by the military operation.
Since then, satellite images reveal that the damage has more than doubled, he told French. Agency Rami Alaze, a CNUCED economist specializing in the question of aid to the Palestinians, one of the authors of the report.
“New data shows that 50% of the building structures in the Gaza Strip have been (damaged or) destroyed (totally),” he said.
“The Gaza Strip is currently uninhabitable,” he stressed. the economist, while GDP shrank by a quarter.
The war was sparked by an unprecedented Hamas attack on southern sectors of Israeli territory on October 7, when some 1,140 were killed. people, most of them civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official statements from the authorities.
Another approximately 250 people were kidnapped and taken to the Gaza Strip. More than a hundred were released when a week-long truce was declared in late November. According to Israeli authorities, 132 still remain in the Palestinian enclave, however 29 are believed to be dead.
In retaliationof the October 7 attack, Israel has vowed to “wipe out” the Palestinian Islamist movement in power in the Gaza Strip since 2007, and its military operations since then have killed at least 26,900 people, the vast majority of them women and children, according to Hamas Health Ministry.
CNUCED recalls that the situation in the Gaza Strip was already catastrophic before the war even broke out, as its seventeen-year blockade and repeated military operations resulted in 80% of the population to depend on international aid.
Based on satellite imagery and official data, the United Nations agency estimates that the Gaza Strip's economy had already contracted by 4.5% in the first three quarters of 2023.
“The military operation has accelerated markedly. recession and caused GDP to shrink by 24% and GDP per capita by 26.1% for the year as a whole,” she says in the press release accompanying her report.
Mr Alaze pointed out that the decline in GDP per capita last year is roughly equal to that seen throughout the blockade and during six previous military operations.
45% of the working population in Palestinian enclave was unemployed before October 7 and the war has skyrocketed the unemployment rate, estimated to have reached around 80% in December.
“The entire economy in the Gaza Strip has been paralyzed », Mr. Alazeh explained, clarifying that the only people working are those involved in humanitarian activities.
CNUCED estimates that even if reconstruction began immediately and the Gaza Strip returned to the average development level of 0, 4% seen in the last fifteen years, it would be seven decades before the enclave would again achieve its pathetic level of GDP in 2022.
Immense international aid will be required, explains the economist, especially if the goal is to improve the level of development in the Gaza Strip.
“There is no doubt that it will have to amount to several tens of billions of dollars” and this is a “conservative estimate”, according to report.
For the UN agency, any resolution to the crisis must include ending military operations, lifting the blockade and progressing towards a two-state solution.< /p>
The goal, he explains, cannot simply be “to return to the status quo before October 2023”.