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Palestinians worse off than ever as settler

numbers soar, says UN

Palestinians wave a flag during a protest against Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank village of
Nabi Saleh, near Ramallah, on 28 August.
Shadi HatemAPA images

Ali Abunimah Rights and Accountability 2 September


2015
Palestinians are economically worse off than ever before as the number of Israeli settlers on
their land sets records, a new report by the United Nations trade and development
agency UNCTAD reveals.
Israels longstanding restrictions on the Palestinian economy are to blame. But the situation
has been made catastrophically worse by its ongoing blockade and devastating attack on Gaza

last summer that killed more than 2,200 people, including 551 children.
Unlivable Gaza

Three full-scale Israeli military attacks on Gaza in the last six years, on top of eight years of
blockade, have ravaged the territorys infrastructure, destroyed its productive capacity,
hindered any meaningful reconstruction and left the people poorer than any time in 20 years,
the report states.
Unemployment in Gaza has reached 44 percent, the highest level on record, and is at 18
percent in the West Bank.
But UNCTAD says the real depth of unemployment and the attendant waste of human
resources are even worse than the figures suggest.
Even before last summers Israeli attack on Gaza and the further deterioration in the
economy, 3 out of 5 households in Gaza and 1 out of 5 in the West Bank were food insecure
meaning they could not guarantee a reliable and sufficient supply of affordable and nutritious
food.
In the year 2000, just 72,000 people in Gaza were dependent on UN food rations. In May this
year, that figure reached 868,000 almost half the population.
The lastest Israeli assault on Gaza effectively eliminated what was left of the middle class,
sending almost all of the population into destitution and dependence on international
humanitarian aid, the report states.
UNCTAD estimates the direct costs of the destruction Israel inflicted on Gaza in its attacks in
November 2012 and last year at $2.7 billion.
In a much publicized 2012 report, the UN concluded that if nothing changed, Gaza would be
unlivable by 2020.
This latest report notes that things have only gotten worse since then.
Gaza is by any reasonable measure already unlivable. That, at least, must have been the
conclusion of the hundreds of Palestinians known to have died or been murdered at sea
trying to reach safer shores in Europe.

Settlers prosper

UN figures show that Israel is reaping billions of dollars in benefits from the export of goods
and electricity to a captive Palestinian market. Israel bans virtually all exports from Gaza.
It has repeatedly destroyed Gazas electricity generating capacity while preventing the
construction of new plants in the West Bank, forcing Palestinians to pay exorbitant prices for
Israeli-generated power.
Israeli colonists, by contrast, are doing particularly well.
Settlers now outnumber Palestinians in Area C of the occupied West Bank, the report notes.
This area, so designated under the 1993 Oslo accords, makes up 61 percent of the West Bank
and remains under full Israeli military control, with no role for the Palestinian Authority.
It includes dozens of Palestinian villages and, according to UNCTAD, the most valuable
Palestinian natural resources.
Due to Israels aggressive and unchecked colonization, there are now 341,000 Israeli settlers
in Area C, compared to 300,000 Palestinians.
It is in this area that settlers subject Palestinians and their assets to relentless and
sometimes lethal attacks, with more than 9,000 productive trees destroyed or vandalized in
2014.
Analysis

The stark facts contained in the UNCTAD report underline that Israel is nothing less than an
existential threat to the Palestinian people.
The report calls for an end to the blockade of Gaza and restrictions in the West Bank and for
Palestinians to be granted their full rights under international law.
More donor aid, though urgently necessary to deal with the deepening crisis, cannot be a
substitute for restoring Palestinian rights, the report concludes.
But the bureaucratese of an official report leaves some things unsaid.
The catastrophic situation in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, it must always be
recalled, is manufactured specifically by Israel.

It is the direct consequence of the support and complicity Israel has received from
international corporations, the European Union, certain Arab regimes and especially the
United States.
President Barack Obama bears particular culpability his administration has increased aid to
Israel to record levels even as Israel has inflicted unprecedented violence and oppression on
Palestinians.
The Israel-Hamas contacts, mediated by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, to reach a
long-term truce for Gaza that would end the siege, have reached a dead end, Middle East
Eyes David Hearst reported this week.
It is therefore more urgent than ever that Israel and its abettors be pressured and brought to
account by all means available, especially boycott, divestment and sanctions.
Posted by Thavam