The report “Economic costs of the Israeli occupation for the Palestinian people: The Gaza Strip under closure and restrictions” estimates the cost to be six times Gaza’s GDP in 2018 or 107% of the total Palestinian GDP.
It projects that without the closure and military operations, Gaza’s poverty rate in 2017 could have been 15%, more than a quarter of the current 56%. The poverty gap could have been 4.2%, one-fifth of the current 20%.
The report stresses 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.
"It emphasizes the urgency of restoring Palestinians’ right to free movement for business, medical care, education, recreation and family ties," said UNCTAD in a press release on Wednesday.
Since June 2007, following the control of Gaza by Hamas, 2 million Palestinians have been under a prolonged closure inside the 365 km² area of the Gaza strip. Moreover, the Strip has endured three military hostilities since 2008.
The result has been the near-collapse of Gaza’s regional economy and its isolation from the Palestinian economy and rest of the world.
Gaza has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world and more than half of its population lives below the poverty line, the report notes.
Most of the people have no access to safe water, regular and reliable electricity supply or even a proper sewage system.
Between 2007 and 2018, the regional Palestinian economy in Gaza grew by less than 5%, and its share in the Palestinian economy decreased from 31% to 18% in 2018. As a result, GDP per capita shrank by 27% and unemployment increased by 49%.
If Gaza’s share of the occupied Palestinian territory’s economy were to remain the same as in 2006, Gaza’s GDP would have been 50% higher than its actual size.
As a result of the GDP collapse, between 2007 and 2017, the poverty rate in Gaza jumped from 40% to 56% in 2017. The poverty gap increased from 14% to 20% and the annual minimum cost of lifting people out of poverty quadrupled from $209 million to $838 million (constant 2015 US$).
According to the report, these estimates are partial, because they cover only the economic cost of the Israeli occupation from the prolonged closure and recurrent military operations in Gaza from 2007 to 2018.
They don’t capture other costs of the Israeli occupation, such as the economic impact of preventing the Palestinian people from using their natural gas field off the shores of Gaza.