Palestinians are suffering from abject poverty despite the abundance of natural resources they have which have been robbed by Israel. These resources can uplift Palestinian from poverty to richness. Specifically, it houses three groundwater aquifer basins designated as the Western aquifer, the Eastern aquifer, and the North-western aquifer. These aquifers are estimated to contain up to 679 million cubic meters of water. Geographically, the North-Eastern aquifer is predominantly in Palestine, with only 20 percent being shared with Israel. West Bank houses 80 percent of the Western aquifer but Israel controls 80 percent of its storage region.
Palestine also contains huge volumes of gas marine reserves. In 1999, the Consolidated Contractors Company, the British Gas Group, and the Palestine Investment Fund formed a consortium to explore the existence of gas reserves on the coast of Gaza. One year later, the consortium discovered the existence of over thirty billion cubic meters of gas in the Gaza Marine and Border Field. Gaza Marine is wholly located on the Palestinian coast and contains twenty-eight billion cubic meters of gas while Border Field is between Palestine and Israeli territories and has four billion cubic meters of gas. Using 2010 prices the gas is estimated at approximately $6.5 billion. Israel has, nonetheless, impeded any form of extraction and usage of the gas and therefore remains untapped for economic growth.
Additionally, Palestine has a lengthy fishing range off the coast of the Gaza strip that stretches at 20 nautical miles. Israelis military has, however, cut Palestinians off from seventeen nautical miles, leaving them to fish at only three nautical miles. Palestinians are today only given access to thirty percent of the fishing range with restrictions being enforced by shooting at people who illegally access restricted regions.
Israel has also developed an insatiable appetite for Palestinian land, confiscating a huge part of the territory since its occupation of Palestine in 1967 . The confiscation has chiefly been conducted to build bypass roads, establish Israeli settlement, and construct the segregation wall. Data from ARIJ sources point that 714, 633 dunums of land have been taken in West Bank, with 239, 011 being in East Jerusalem.
Palestine’s economy has significantly been affected by Israel’s occupation. Accordingly, the living standards of Palestinians are comparably low to Israel’s. Categorically, Israel has a poverty rate of 5.71 percent and is ranked 18thglobally. Comparatively, Palestine has a poverty rate of 29.2 percent, with Gaza strip being the most affected region. At least 75 percent of East Jerusalem residents live in poverty largely contributed by the systemic marginalization by the Israeli government. Women are the most affected population as they face additional barriers to economic development, such as discriminatory legislation, cultural rigidities, and their continued marginalization by employment sectors.
Palestine’s health sector is underdeveloped and lacks basic amenities as compared to that of Israel. Israel continually bombards areas infested by Hamas militias, which has affected the functioning capacities of health centers in Gaza and some parts of West Bank. The damages to the health sector are valued at $47.39 million.
In education, damage to schools and related infrastructure has been estimated at $22, 119,000. Palestinians cannot access educational infrastructure. In contrast, Israel is ranked as the third most educated nation in the globe. Israel enjoys some of the world’s best educational infrastructure while their Palestinian counterparts cannot even access basic educational supplies. Wars between the two territories have destroyed educational supplies valued at $11, 025, 000. Educational institutions such as the Palestine Technical College, Al Aqsa University, Islamic University, and the University College of Applied Sciences have all received significant destruction from bombardment bringing the total damage in education to an estimated $49.14 million.
Palestinians houses have also been remarkably affected by military assaults aimed at quelling aggression. Palestinians in the Gaza Strip face profound housing problems, with at least one-third of the 1.8 million population being internally displaced. These people cannot access sanitation services, good nutrition, and basic amenities. Israel enjoys a relatively good housing sector compared to Palestine. Israelis can, in effect, access good sanitary services, clean water, and other basic amenities. These services, coupled with the relatively good health facilities, make Israel more economically developed than their Palestine counterparts.
Palestinians unfairly suffer at the hands of Israelis annexation and illegitimate colonization. Unlike Israel’s economic woes that are predominantly self-inflicted, Palestine’s problems are caused by their superior counterpart, which continues to destroy every aspect of the economy and socio-political framework. As abovementioned, much of the housing, educational, and infrastructural problems are caused by Israel’s military barrage and restriction to access certain areas. In a twenty-one year period between 1994 and 2015, for instance, Israel demolished more than 3, 947 houses in West Bank with 1,330 being demolished in Jerusalem alone. These victims were never compensated and were left to find other settlement areas.
Israel’s arrogation of Palestinian land, as well as restriction to access various natural resources, is also unfair and contravenes international laws. The Fourth Geneva Convention and the Hague regulations directs that occupying states should not use natural resources for usage other than for the benefit of the local community or military. Palestinians in Gaza and West Bank purchase on average 59.3 million cubic meters of water annually, despite living in a region that is endowed with natural water. The water prices are estimated at $1 per cubic meter, meaning Palestinians spend, on average $59.3 million on water alone. These situations have tremendously affected Palestinians’ economic well-being making them some of the most necessitous populations in the globe.
Israel needs to give Palestinians the freedom to access their natural resources unencumbered. Access to water, land, and fishing zones should be granted so that Palestinians can improve their economies. Access to land may help them engage in agricultural activities and build better houses which may profoundly improve their economic status. Currently, most Palestinians are non-skilled, which alienates them from the labor market. Agricultural opportunities would allow them to work and earn income which would be used to improve the various facets of their lives. Restriction on fishing should also be stopped to revive the Palestinian fishing industry.
In short, Palestinians are suffering while Israel enjoys a high standard of living from the natural resources it has stolen from the Palestinians.