WASHINGTON, April 3 — The Gaza Strip suffered about US$18.5 billion in damages to critical infrastructure in the first four months of the Israeli bombardment launched in response to the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks, according to a joint World Bank and the United Nations report released on Tuesday.

The interim damage assessment report, which received financial support from the European Union, estimates the damages are equivalent to 97 per cent of the combined GDP of the West Bank and Gaza in 2022 and left 26 million tons of debris and rubble that would take years to remove.

Why it is important

The report details the scale of infrastructure destruction in the Israel-Gaza war and the dire state of the population in the narrow coastal enclave where health facilities have been shattered, the population is starving and aid work is hampered.

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By the numbers

The report found that damage to structures affects every sector, with housing accounting for 72 per cent of the costs and public service infrastructure such as water, health, and education accounting for 19 per cent, according to a statement from the World Bank.

Over a million people are without homes and 75 per cent of the population is displaced, the World Bank said, adding that more than half the population of Gaza is on the brink of famine and the entire population is experiencing acute food insecurity and malnutrition.

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Key quotes

“Catastrophic cumulative impacts on physical and mental health have hit women, children, the elderly, and persons with disabilities the hardest, with the youngest children anticipated to be facing life-long consequences to their development,” the World Bank said.

Context

Palestinian Islamist group Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and taking 253 hostages, according to Israeli tallies. Israel’s subsequent military assault on Hamas-governed Gaza has killed over 32,000 people, according to the local health ministry, displaced nearly all of its 2.3 million population, put Gaza on the brink of starvation and led to genocide allegations that Israel denies.

Israel says it is targeting Hamas militants who use civilian buildings, including apartment blocks and hospitals, for cover. Hamas denies doing so. Israeli leaders have said Hamas can end the war by surrendering, freeing all hostages it holds in Gaza and handing over for trial those involved in the Oct. 7 attack. — Reuters