Unemployment nears 80% in Gaza, UN agency reports


Unemployment in the Gaza Strip has soared to nearly 80% since the war with Israel began last October, according to a report by the United Nations labor agency.

This crisis has driven the overall unemployment rate across Palestinian territories to over 50%.

In its fourth assessment of the war's impact on employment, the International Labour Organization (ILO) reported that unemployment in Gaza has reached 79.1%, while the West Bank has seen joblessness rise to nearly 32%. Combined, these figures indicate an overall unemployment rate of 50.8%.

"This excludes Palestinians who have given up on finding a job," said Ruba Jaradat, ILO Regional Director for Arab States. "The situation is much worse."

The conflict escalated when Hamas launched an attack on southern Israel on October 7, resulting in around 1,200 deaths and 253 hostages, according to Israeli sources. In response, Israel initiated a ground and air offensive in Gaza, which has led to over 36,500 deaths according to Gaza health authorities. Prior to the war, nearly half of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents already lived below the poverty line.

“Imagine with this very high level of unemployment, people will not be able to secure food for themselves and for their families,” Jaradat emphasized. “This is also impacting their health…. Even if they have money, there are no hospitals that can accommodate the catastrophic situation there.”

Economically, the real gross domestic product (GDP) in the Palestinian territories has contracted by nearly 33% since the war began. The Gaza Strip has seen a dramatic GDP contraction of 83.5%, while the West Bank's economy has shrunk by 22.7%, according to ILO data.

“In the occupied Palestinian territory and particularly in the West Bank, the reduction in incomes has pushed many families into severe poverty,” Jaradat added. Photo by gloucester2gaza, Wikimedia commons.

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