By Massoud Derhally
An assessment conducted by international donors estimates physical damage in the West Bank as a result of Israel’s offensive during March/April 2002 at US $361 million.
An assessment conducted by international donors estimates physical damage in the West Bank as a result of Israel’s offensive during March/April 2002 at US $361 million.The findings came in a report published by the UNDP, World Bank, the government of Norway and all the representatives of the donor community present in the West Bank and Gaza strip.Of the seven towns that the Israeli army attacked, Nablus was the hardest hit, requiring a total of US $114.3 million to carry out repairs. The town of Jenin which received publicity for the number of Palestinian civilians killed by Israeli army troops, sustained US $83 million in damages. Ramallah, the capital of the Palestinian Autonomous areas will require US $51 million followed by Hebron US $29 million, Bethlehem US $24 million, Tulkarem US $9 million and Qalqilia US $5 million. According to the report, The private sector suffered the most, with repairs estimated at a total of US $97 million, of which US $50 million consisted of damage to buildings and equipment and spoilage/loss of inventory. Significant damage also occurred to roads US $64 million, private Housing US $66 million and ancient cultural sites US $48 million, as well as to electricity and water networks, schools and clinics. In the Jenin refugee camp, 800 families are now homeless and damage to housing is estimated at US $27 million said the report.“This dollar amount does not account for the cost of disruption associated with losing valuable civilian records such as personnel data from the Ministry of Interior and tax record from the Ministry of Finance,” said Timothy Rothermel, special representative of the UNDP. Nigel Roberts, director of the World Bank said, “Serious as it is, the damage to infrastructure and institutions will be overshadowed by the economic losses that the new regime of tightened closures in the West Bank will bring.” Roberts recalled that in the first 15 months of the intifada, physical damage from armed conflict amounted to US $305 million while Palestinian income losses due to restrictions on the movement of people and goods totalled US $2.4 billion.Donors have already indicated that they will provide US $150 million for priority repairs.According to the Palestinian daily newspaper Al Quds, the Palestinian economy has suffered $8.5 billion in losses since the "intifada" or uprising against the Israeli occupation began September 2000. Citing figures provided by Arab Labour Organization Director General Ibrahim Queider, Al Quds reported in early May, that approximately 450,000 Palestinian workers have lost their jobs due to the unrest. Since the uprising began in Sept. 2000, two million of the 3.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are now living in poverty, the daily added. The Israeli policy of collective punishment against the Palestinians and Israeli economic blockades has also damaged the economy, according to the report by Queider. The report is to be presented next month to the International Labor Organization (ILO) in Geneva and the ILO will be asked to appoint an international committee to monitor the situation of the Palestinians, Queider told the East Jerusalem daily.The World Bank is currently seeking more than $700 million to fill a funding gap on a $1.7-billion humanitarian program for Palestinians, reported the Financial Times of London in April. According to a report issued by the World Bank and UNSCO on 12 March, entitled Fifteen Months - Intifada, Closures and Palestinian Economic Crisis, Palestinian per capita income declined by 12% in 2000 as a whole and a further 19% in 2001 despite the injection of donor funds worth $195 per person since 1994, or “one of the highest levels of per capita official development assistance anywhere in the world.”In addition to the human losses of life and injury, which “defy economic estimation,” the report says that some $305mn worth of physical damage had been incurred by the end of December 2001. More importantly, “Gross National Income losses…amounted to at least $2.4bn in real terms by the end of 2001.” According to the report, under the best case scenario Palestine will need some $1.5bn in its current fiscal year just to maintain the status quo, with $1.7bn needed should the closure tighten funding. However, the three scenarios projected by the report were drawn up without factoring in the latest escalation of violence, suggesting that in reality the worst-case scenario would require significantly more.