UN agency: Israel’s Gaza blockade has devastated economy

Israel’s blockade of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip has cost the seaside territory as much as $16.7 billion in economic losses and sent poverty and unemployment skyrocketing, a UN report says, as it calls on Israel to lift the closure.

The report by the UN Conference on Trade and Development echoes calls by numerous international bodies over the years criticizing the blockade. But its findings, looking at an 11-year period ending in 2018, mark perhaps the most detailed analysis of the Israeli policy to date.

Israel imposed the blockade in 2007 after Hamas, a terrorist group that seeks Israel’s destruction, violently seized control of Gaza from the forces of the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority. The Israeli measures, along with restrictions by neighboring Egypt, have tightly controlled the movement of people and goods in and out of the territory.

A Palestinian Hamas policeman wears a face mask as he guards in a street in Gaza City during a 48-hour lockdown on August 25, 2020. (AP/Khalil Hamra)

Israel says the restrictions are needed to keep Hamas from building up its military capabilities. The bitter enemies have fought three wars and numerous skirmishes over the years.

— with agencies