World Bank warns Gaza economy approaching collapse, calls on Israel to lift blockade
The World Bank warned on Tuesday that the economy of the Gaza Strip is approaching an “immediate collapse” and called on Israel and the larger international community to step in.
According to the report from CBS News, the economy in Gaza has contracted by 6% over the first quarter of 2018. Unemployment is over a staggering 50%, and youth unemployment is more than 70%.
The World Bank cites numerous factors for Gaza’s economic decline, including the decade long blockade by Israel, as well as the budget cuts by the Palestinian Authority and a reduction in international aid, especially from the United States.
Mariana Wes, the World Bank’s director for the region of Gaza, said in a statement, “A combination of war, isolation, and internal rivalries has left Gaza in a crippling economic state and exacerbated the human distress. Increased frustration is feeding into the increased tensions which have already started spilling over into unrest and set back the human development of the region’s large youth population.”
Since March, Palestinians have staged protests weekly near the border between Gaza and Israel against the Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza, which began when Hamas took control of the territory in 2007.
According to Gaza’s health ministry, Israeli soldiers have killed at least 136 Palestinian citizens during these protests, including 27 children. Israel contends that it is just securing its border, and is accusing Hamas of using protests as a smokescreen for threatening acts. However, human rights groups have been accusing Israel of excessive and unlawful use of force against unarmed protestors.
The World Bank follows suit in holding Israel to account, instructing them to lift the blockade on Gaza in an effort to improve the conditions. The World Bank also urged Israel to develop “legitimate institutions to govern Gaza in a transparent and efficient manner.”