Five wars in 15 years have stifled Gaza’s growth | Data

Since the beginning of Israeli strikes following Hamas’ surprise attack in southern Israel on October 7, over 4,700 people have died in the Gaza Strip, according to reports from the territory’s leaders. Of these, close to 1,800 were children, says the Palestinian health ministry. Israeli strikes on Gaza have also left about 16,000 people injured.

The Gaza Strip, a financially strained Palestinian territory, has been under Israeli blockade since 2007. It is been under the governance of Hamas, which has engaged in war with Israel five times in the last 15 years. The Gaza Strip was occupied by Israel during the 1967 war and returned to Palestine fully in 2005. As Gaza shares its border with Israel in the north and east, Egypt in the south, and the Mediterranean Sea in the west, its entries and exits are heavily controlled. In 2007, Israel imposed an air, land, and sea blockade on Gaza. This means that except the Rafah entrance on the Egyptian border, every other point is controlled by Israel.

Due to such intense scrutiny on the movement of men and goods combined with years of bombardment, Gaza has not seen meaningful development in recent decades. The latest war with Israel is the fifth in the last 15 years, with the other four recorded in 2008, 2012, 2014, and 2021. Each time, air strikes from Israel have flattened buildings and killed civilians. This has led to an increase in poverty levels.

The GDP per capita of the West Bank and Gaza in 2022 was $5,722 (Chart 1A). This was less than that of India ($7,096) and just above the GDP per capita of Pakistan ($5,452). Israel’s GDP per capita was seven times higher at $44,272.

Chart 1A | The chart shows GDP per capita, PPP (constant 2017 international $).

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Chart 1B | The chart shows the percentage of persons under the poverty line.

The death toll in Gaza has already reached record levels. With over 4,700 casualties and counting, Hamas’ fifth war with Israel has become the deadliest so far. The seven-week conflict in July-August 2014 killed about 2,250 Palestinians. While many children have died in the conflict, fertility levels in the region were among the highest in 2021 with 3.5 total births per woman. For comparison, India’s fertility rate was 2.08 (Chart 2A).

Chart 2A | The chart shows the fertility rate (the number of births per woman) as of 2021.

The population density of the Gaza Strip is 6,019 (Chart 2B), making it one of the densest places in the world. Only four other places are more densely populated than Gaza — Macao, Monaco, Singapore, and Hong Kong. 

Chart 2B | The chart shows population density (people per sq. km of land area).

With a huge population, most of them children, the burden on adults to provide for them is very high. However, due to the poor presence of industry, Gaza suffers from chronic unemployment. More worryingly, only a small share of the population is even looking for jobs. The labour force participation rate (percentage of the total population aged 15+ who were employed or looking for work) in the West Bank and Gaza in 2021 was 43%. If only the Gaza Strip is considered, it was even lower at 35%. These figures were among the lowest in the world. And of them, only a small fraction was employed. In the West Bank and Gaza, the unemployment rate was 26% in 2021. In Gaza, it was 45% (Chart 3A).

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Chart 3A | The chart shows unemployment as a share of the total labour force.

Chart 3B | The chart shows the labour force participation rate.

While over 16,000 people are injured in Gaza, the region only has 13 hospital beds per 10,000 population (Chart 4A), among the lowest in the world. It hints at the possibility of the death toll increasing much further given that the wounded may not get adequate treatment.

Chart 4A | The chart shows the number of hospital beds per 10,000 people. 

Chart 4B | The chart shows the number of doctors per 10,000 people.

Chart 5 | The chart shows the daily water consumption in litres per capita per day.
With inputs from AP, AFP and Reuters. This is the first of a three-part Data Point series on the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Source: World Bank, World Health Statistics 2023, Atlas of Sustainable Development 2023 and Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics

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