Blockade makes 2017 "worst" year for Gaza Strip: report

Source: Xinhua| 2017-12-31 20:19:48|Editor: Zhou Xin
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GAZA, Dec. 31 (Xinhua) -- The Israeli blockade and restriction on Gaza Strip as well as the stumbled reconstruction process in 2017 was "the worse economically" for the coastal enclave, according to a special report by the Gaza chamber of commerce and industry on Sunday.

Israel continued it punitive measures and policies throughout 2017 against Gaza Strip by adding more to the list of banned items, the report said, adding that the blockade made it impossible to import raw material, equipment and machines in addition to construction material.

The report also mentioned that over 3,000 businessmen and merchants had their permits taken away from them at the Erez crossing, adding that dozens were arrested or withheld by Israeli authorities at the crossing point.

Israel imposed a tight blockade on the Gaza Strip in 2007 and considered the coastal enclave a hostile entity right after Hamas militias violently seized control of the territory and routed Abbas security forces.

Unemployment rates reached a new high in 2017, standing at 46.6 percent in the third quarter of the year, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics.

According to the report, only 30 percent of the required cement was allowed into Gaza since the last Israeli offensive against the Strip, citing the Israeli blockade and the "futility" of the UN mechanism.

The shortage in cement import was evident in the number of homes reconstructed of 5,755 out of 11,000 houses that were completely demolished.

The number of homes under construction is 818, said the report, and 602 others are in the pipeline, while 3,825 others are still awaiting a funding possibility.

Almost 4,500 household are still without homes and the financial gap of home destroyed completely reached 3,800, while 56,000 others were partially destroyed.

The report highlighted that only 25 million U.S. dollars was paid through for the reconstruction of the economic sector in Gaza, covering almost 16.5 percent of the overall damage to the sector.

The damage to the Palestinian economic enterprises in Gaza as a result of the Israeli offensive reached 5,153 worth 152 million dollars.

The report also cited the closure of the Israeli controlled border commercial crossings connecting the Gaza strip with the world through Egypt for 112 days throughout 2017.

The report warned that the Gaza Strip "has entered a phase of economic breakdown and turned to the world's largest prison," due to the significant shortage of services.

It urged international organizations and bodies to pressure Israel to end its blockade on Gaza and open all border crossing points to allow all the needs of the people there, especially construction material without preconditions.