‘Free Fall’: World Bank Warns Gaza Economy Is ‘Collapsing’

The economy in the Gaza Strip is collapsing mainly due to the 11-year blockade on the coastal enclave in addition to cuts in donor aid, according to a new report from the World Bank.

The report described the economy as being in free fall, shrinking by six percent in the first quarter of 2018, and warned of further deterioration since then.

It said unemployment in Gaza had reached more than 50 percent, while 70 percent of young people are jobless.

The report cited a number of factors affecting the strip other than the blockade, such as the Palestinian Authority’s decision to reduce the monthly payments by $30m to the area, the winding down of the $50-60m a year of the United States’ government aid programme, and the cuts to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestinian refugees.

The World Bank called on Israel to lift restrictions on trade and movement of goods and people, to help improve Gaza’s economy. It also urged the PA to work on economic development policies and emphasized the need for the development of legitimate institutions to govern Gaza in a transparent and efficient manner.

The report was released before a high-level meeting of the bank’s Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, responsible for coordinating development assistance to the Palestinians, on Thursday.

Palestinians in Gaza have staged near-weekly demonstrations along the fence with Israel since late March, in part to protest the blockade enforced by Israel and Egypt since 2007, when Hamas took control of the territory.

Israeli soldiers have killed over 170 Palestinians during the weekly protests since March, including 27 minors, according to Gaza’s health ministry. Human rights groups have accused Israel of excessive and unlawful use of force against unarmed protesters.

Source: Palestine Chronicle