The Palestinian economy has suffered losses of $3.86 billion due to the Israeli blockade of the Palestinian territories since the start of the six-month-old Palestinian uprising, according to a report by the Palestinian finance ministry Sunday, April 8.
"The total losses incurred by the Palestinian economy since the blockade and Israeli aggression against the Palestinian territories mounts to $3.86 billion," the report said. "The Israeli army stops 125,000 Palestinians from working in Israel," the report stated, adding that "the Israeli security forces systematically search imported products."
The finance ministry also said Israel "holds on to goods headed for the Palestinian territories at Israeli customs posts," estimating the number of detained containers to be 3,500.
The Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat said March 10 that the blockade imposed on the West Bank and Gaza Strip had caused "losses exceeding three billion dollars."
This punitive action, which the Israeli army says is aimed a containing the Palestinian uprising and stopping anti-Israel attacks, has ruined the economy of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
According to the United Nations, unemployment has reached 60 percent in the Gaza Strip and 40 percent in the West Bank, compared to 11 percent before the start of the unrest.
Nearly one third of the population of the territories, some one million people, live below the poverty level, on less than two dollars per day. Almost 470 people have died since the start of the fighting, most of whom are Palestinians. — (AFP, Gaza City)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)