Gaza under attack
The Palestinians and international bodies are trying to estimate the economic damage suffered by the Gaza Strip so far since the start of the Israeli offensive.
Rafik al-Husseini, an advisor to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, estimated several days ago that the damage amounts to $ 2 billion.
Another estimate, by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics puts the damage at $1.5 billion: The direct damage suffered by the Strip's residents is estimated at $400 million, while the damage to infrastructures is estimated at $1 billion.
Gil Feiler, Doron Peskin
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According to this estimate, some 20,000 buildings have been damaged in the Strip so far (15% of the structures), some destroyed completely and some partially damaged.
About 26,000 Palestinians are no longer living in their homes and are centered in 31 large United Nations shelters. Some of these refugees have no house to return to.
Loai Shabana, director of the Palestinian Central Bureau Statistics, added that on the eve of the Israeli offensive the unemployment rate in Gaza had reached 42% of the workforce (some 120,000 people). But now, he said, in light of the fighting, the unemployment rate may exceed 60%.
According to Shabana, various economic facilities, including factories and offices, were directly hit during the fighting. He added that the Gaza Strip lost 80% of its national product throughout the days of fighting.
The Gaza operation has an impact on other places besides the Strip. Egyptian officials are concerned over the effect of the fighting in Gaza on the local tourism industry. A drop in Egyptian hotels' occupancy was already felt during the Christmas holiday and the New Year.
According to Egyptian sources, the decline is expected to continue following the events in Gaza. Egypt's "tourism facilities association" has already appealed to the government in an urgent demand to issue plans supporting the tourism companies in light of the security situation's implications.
Jordanian officials have also expressed their fear that the fighting in the Strip would harm the country's tourism industry, which contributed 14% to the kingdom's national product last year.
Dr. Gil Feiler is founder and managing director of Info-Prod Research (Middle East) Ltd. , and Doron Peskin is head of research