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15 May 2002
WEST BANK DAMAGE PUT AT $361 MILLION.
Israel's recent military offensive in the West Bank caused physical damage estimated at $361 million, according to an assessment issued here Wednesday by international donors which are mobilizing to finance reconstruction, the
New York Times
reports. By comparison, the first 15 months of Israeli-Palestinian fighting, which erupted in September 2000, caused an estimated $305 million in damage.
The damage assessment was carried out by the World Bank, UN agencies, the European Union, the US Agency for International Development, and officials from Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands and Norway, in cooperation with the Palestinian Authority.
It was the first attempt to quantify the damage caused by the Israeli military campaign against six cities and other towns and villages in the West Bank, which began on March 29 in Ramallah. The estimate does not cover loss of income, which is likely to be far greater.
According to the donors' estimate, private businesses took the heaviest losses, suffering $97 million in damage, of which $50 million was harm to buildings and equipment and loss of inventory. Damage to roads was estimated at $64 million, housing at $66 million and cultural heritage sites at $48 million. The Nablus area was the hardest hit, with repair costs there estimated at $114 million. Losses in Jenin were put at $83 million; damage to housing in the Jenin refugee camp was put at $27 million, and 800 families there were left homeless, the donors said.
In recent weeks, the Palestinian Authority has come under growing internal and external pressure to reform itself and stem corruption. Donor countries are concerned that the money they provide will not be used for its intended purposes.
World Bank officials said ultimately the reform impetus must come from within the Palestinian leadership. The problem also must be put in perspective, they added, citing their agency's survey of international businesspeople last year that rated Arab countries as more corrupt than the Palestinian territories. In the case of the Palestinians, however, some donors have been asked to fund the same projects more than once, given the military destruction.
Development officials also would like Israel to release hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue it collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority under a joint tax treaty. Karim Nashashibi, an IMF representative, said the figure due was $507 million as of December and has grown an estimated $30 million a month since.