The Palestinians accused Israel Wednesday, April 4, of having wrecked their industrial sector, the driving force behind the economy in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.
"Israel has taken all the measures it needed to wreck the industrial sector, which had succeeded over the past few years in becoming the spearhead" of the Palestinian economy, Palestinian industry minister Saadi Al-Krounz said at a press conference in Gaza City.
"The Israeli army has destroyed 57 Palestinians industrial plants," he added, causing an estimated loss of $24 million.
He said the growth rate for gross domestic product (GDP) in 1999 was 19 percent and should have reached 21 percent in 2000, "without the aggression carried out by the occupation forces since the intifada broke out" on September 28. He did not say what percentage of GDP the industrial sector accounted for.
He accused Israel of blocking customs clearance of Palestinian products in Israeli ports, in order to prevent direct imports.
Israeli exports towards the Palestinians territories total three billion dollars, which represents six times the volume of Palestinian exports towards the Jewish state.
The crippling blockade imposed by Israel on the Palestinian territories since the uprising started more than six months ago has cost the Palestinian economy some one billion dollars, according to the United Nations. — (AFP, Gaza City)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )