The Palestinian economy in the Gaza Strip – a path to long-term development
What is life in Gaza like today? How do residents of the Gaza Strip make a living and what is the state of the Strip's economy? A look at the media, particularly in the past year, offers one of two contradicting images of Gaza. In one, Gaza is portrayed as a giant prison whose hungry and helpless residents are in the throes of a severe humanitarian crisis. The second image is of a place experiencing economic growth and a undergoing a construction boom after Israel "removed" the closure. The truth, as usual, lies in neither of these exaggerated versions of reality.
A new report by Physicians for Human Rights-Israel presents a more complex picture of the situation in the Gaza Strip and attempts to take the debate beyond quibbling about whether there is a “humanitarian crisis” or not. Gaza residents do not suffer from a shortage of food, but they do struggle with poverty, exacerbated by the years of closure and restrictions on movement. More than 70% of Gaza’s residents currently receive humanitarian aid and the official unemployment rate is now 31.5% and rising (we note that this is the most up-to-date statistic from the first quarter of 2012). In addition, numerous challenges continue to prevent Gaza’s healthcare system from operating according to its potential.
The second chapter of the report, written by Gisha, provides a short historical overview of movement restrictions placed on Gaza and the subsequent impact on the economy.
Many prominent figures in the Israeli political echelon and security establishment agree about the importance of economic development in Gaza, not only because it contributes to greater well-being for Gaza residents, but also because it is an Israeli political and security interest. The report points to Gaza’s potential for economic development and offers a number of practical recommendations given by several experts towards that goal.
To read Gisha’s chapter in the report: Towards an independent Palestinian economy in the Gaza Strip –Obstacles and option