IDF strike in Gaza during Operation Pillar of Defense
Photo: AFP
Gaza tourism booms despite IDF op
While Hamas government says recent round of fighting cost Strip $1.2 billion in damages, local hotels report high occupancy rates. Most visitors said to be members of solidarity delegations
The Hamas government, headed by Ismail Haniyeh, presented figures last week summarizing the damage suffered by the Gaza Strip during the eight days of Operation Pillar of Defense.


According to the Palestinians, the accumulated damage from the fighting totaled $1.2 billion ($500 million in direct damage and $700 million in indirect damage), including physical damage, casualties, destroyed infrastructure, etc.


According to the report submitted by the government, the damage suffered by the manufacturing and commerce sectors suffered reached $215 million. The direct and indirect damage to the agricultural industry amounted to some $95 million.


The health sector lost $35 million, according to Hamas, including damage caused to four hospitals, clinics and storehouses belonging to the health ministry.


Some 130 public structures – including government offices, schools and mosques – were damaged in IDF strikes.


The damage to the transportation sector was relatively modest – about $3 million, including the damage caused to cars and garages.


The Hamas government also reported that the direct damage suffered by the interior ministry, which is responsible for Hamas' security forces, was estimated at $30 million as a result of "20 bases" which had been hit, according to the statement.


Hotel room hard to find

It appears, however, that not all sectors in the Strip have suffered following the operation: Gaza sources are reporting of a tourism boom that has not been seen in years and high occupancy rates in local hotels.


According to the sources, as many as 130 solidarity delegations from Arab and Islamic countries have arrived in Gaza in the past month, boosting the local tourist sector.


Hamas' foreign ministry estimates that some 5,000 visitors have arrived in the Strip as part of these delegations.


Salah Abu Hatzeira, a senior member of Gaza's hotel and restaurant association, says hotel owners in the Strip are finally seeing the light after many years.


According to Abu Hatzeira, the Gaza Strip has 17 hotels offering 450 rooms, most of which have been occupied since the recent round of fighting.


Doron Peskin is head of research at Info-Prod Research (Middle East) Ltd .



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