The United States on Monday announced a $50 million aid program for the Gaza Strip, AP reported. The money, distributed by the US Agency for International Development in partnership with Catholic Relief Services over five years, will be used for humanitarian assistance and jobs creation. Unemployment in Gaza is estimated at more than 40%.
Donald A. Blome, the US consul general in Jerusalem, said the money will help pay for “the dire needs that are obvious in Gaza.”
No one in the State Dept. on this occasion addressed the green elephant in the tent, namely the fact that Hamas has squandered millions of its assets on war preparations against Israel, while Gaza has become today’s metaphor for poverty and neglect.
According to the World Bank’s fact sheet, economic activity in Gaza remains volatile and almost entirely dependent on aid and remittances, with growth rates determined by (i) the level of aid inflows and (ii) the degree of trade restrictions. Gaza’s final consumption is 1.6 times larger than its GDP, and its investment a mere 5 percent of GDP, predominantly in housing. Estimated exports are very low at less than five percent of GDP. Gaza’s GDP per capita is half of that in the PA, and its poverty rate is roughly twice as high as those in the PA.
According to the PA Ministry of National Economy, Gaza has sustained damages of roughly $3 billion since initiation of the 2014 conflict with Israel.
The Palestinian Food Industries Union estimates that Gaza’s food industry has suffered damages estimated at around $150 million, with many factories in inoperable condition. The largest factories that used to provide up to 70% of local market needs were destroyed and will face a slow rebuilding process, as access to construction materials will likely be limited.
Data collected by the PA’s Gaza Coastal Municipal Water Utility (CMWU) and Palestinian Water Authority (PWA) indicates a significant shortage of water services and a severe public health threat to the population of Gaza.
The energy crisis in Gaza has been identified as a primary constraint to economic development even prior to the current conflict. The capacity of Gaza’s only power plant (GPP) was restricted by limited fuel availability due to the trade restrictions and a poor distribution network. The GPP remains inoperable to date and power outages of up to 18 hours a day continue in most areas across Gaza. This has exacerbated the already challenging electricity sector situation in Gaza. Electricity network damage of an estimated $42.5 million has been sustained.
So the $50 million over 5 years from the US should work miracles.David Israel