Rebuilding Gaza After Israel Fighting Will Cost Half a Billion Dollars, World Bank Says

Jack Khoury
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The ruins of homes that had been bombed in May's war in Gaza City.
The ruins of homes that had been bombed in May's war in Gaza City.Credit: Mohammed Salem/Reuters
Jack Khoury

The reconstruction of the Gaza Strip from damage caused in the military confrontation in May between Israel and Hamas will cost $485 million over the next two years, a report issued on Tuesday by the World Bank, the United Nations and the European Union said.

According to the report, the fighting resulted in $300 million in material damage in the coastal strip and another $190 million in economic losses.

Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, which is based in the West Bank, have been at loggerheads over responsibility for the reconstruction of Gaza, as the two each attempt to derive the economic benefits from the effort as well as the political capital that they foresee it producing.

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The greatest damage in the Strip from the fighting was inflicted in the civilian sector, notably in damage to housing, the reconstruction of which is expected to account for more than half the cost mentioned in the report. Just behind housing are the financial and production sectors, particularly agriculture, services, commerce and industry.

According to the report, which is known as a rapid damage and needs assessment, what is needed immediately in Gaza is a cash injection to provide assistance to 45,000 Gaza residents for food and other basic needs; housing for more than 4,000 families whose homes were either destroyed or damaged; the creation of 20,000 jobs in the coming year; and assistance to small businesses and production plants that were damaged in the fighting.

“This is yet another unfortunate episode in which the Palestinian people in Gaza saw themselves in the midst of conflict and destruction,” said Kanthan Shankar, the World Bank’s country director for West Bank and Gaza.

The humanitarian crisis in Gaza is getting worse as a result of the limited access that Gaza’s economy has with the world, said Shankar, who predicted that the Strip’s GDP could shrink in 2021 by 0.3 percent, compared to an estimate prior to May’s round of fighting that it would grow by 2.5 percent. “With this assessment, we hope to mobilize donors’ support to help restore dignified living conditions and livelihoods in Gaza, and lead the way to recovery,” Shankar said.

“Palestinians in Gaza have suffered from the cumulative costs, human and economic, of recurrent hostilities over the last three decades, as well as prolonged restrictions on the movement of people and commercial goods at border crossings, limits to fishing off Gaza’s coast, and now the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The alarming unemployment rate in Gaza is roughly 50 percent and more than half of its population lives in poverty. Following May’s hostilities, 62 percent of Gaza’s population were food insecure,” the World Bank said in a press release Tuesday.

“The recovery of Gaza must be backed by a meaningful peace process that will bring security and dignity for all,” said the EU envoy in East Jerusalem. .

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