Intifada losses to date estimated at $2.5 billion
A report released February 22 by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights claims the damage caused to industrial and agricultural facilities in the West bank and Gaza by Israeli forces has not been driven by Israel’s security concerns, but rather by a systematic policy to severely hurt the Palestinian economy.
Quoting the Palestinian ministry of finance, the report said that losses to the Palestinian economy since the start of the current round if unrest totals approximately $2.5 billion, which equals more than half of the Palestinian GNP of $4.92 billion in 2000.
The report noted that the payment of January’s salaries to employees of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) was delayed until February 12. The PNA’s reserves have been severely depleted by decreased revenues and the non-transfer of tax income by the Israelis.
According to the report, the Palestinian ministry of industry has estimated that the Israeli siege has resulted in total losses to the Palestinian industrial sector of more than $800 million. Furthermore, the minister said, military action by Israeli forces has resulted in the destruction of more than 25 Palestinian factories in the West Bank and Gaza. The ministry added that losses due to missed opportunities are estimated at more than $350 million.
Losses by the Palestinian agricultural sector since the start of the uprising are estimated to stand at $200 million. In addition, states the report, Israeli forces have continued to raze Palestinian agricultural lands and to destroy agricultural facilities.
The report also refers to losses caused by a blockade imposed by the Israelis on the transport of agricultural produce through the Beit Hanoun (Erez) Crossing. Instead, the Israelis allow the exportation of citrus through the less efficient Al-Mentar (Karni) crossing, at a rate of 3-4 trucks daily, each with a cargo of 60 tons. According to the director general of the Palestinian ministry of agriculture, the total amount of exported citrus has so far been 1,500 tons out of 50,000 tons ready for export.
The report notes that the Palestinian construction sector has been completely paralyzed by the five-month total siege, with construction materials being barred from entry into the territories. Consequently, cement, brick and flagstone factories have ceased operating, and thousands of Palestinian laborers working in these factories have been dismissed.
PNA infrastructure projects, such as the Gaza harbor, an electricity-generating station, road paving, housing projects and sewage systems, have been completely halted, the report states. Losses by the construction sector are estimated to stand at $100 million.
The tourism sector has also been completely paralyzed, the report states, and even internal tourism has come to a complete standstill.
Since February 15, the report notes, Israeli naval forces off the Gaza coast have prevented Palestinian fishermen from going to sea. This siege affects 3,860 fishermen, each with a daily income of approximately $12.50.
According to the Director General of the Palestinian gas company Hashem Al-Khozendar, the amount of gas reserves available for domestic purposes is currently 1,800 tons. This meets the needs of Palestinian citizens in the Gaza Strip for only three winter days and seven summer days. — (Albawaba-MEBG)
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)