As Israel unleashes a wave of air strikes and modern firepower against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, the fresh military offensive threatens to undo what was an unlikely economic boom taking hold in the war-battered territory.
Sky-scraping apartment complexes, glitzy new shopping malls and extravagant hotel retreats have sprouted amid the rubble in the last couple years. Unemployment dropped to 28 percent from a record-high of 45 percent at the height of the Israeli blockade in 2007.
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Devastated by the economic siege, during which 30 percent of Gaza’s businesses closed, the economy grew a staggering 20 percent in 2011, according to the International Monetary Fund. Per capita gross domestic product also increased by 19 percent in 2011.
“The role the [Hamas] government is playing is a positive one. It facilitated the entrance of construction materials, and allowed them to be delivered at reasonable prices,” Nasser Al Helow, a Gazan business mogul with real estate investments and an import business, said in July. “This affected unemployment and stimulated other economic sectors,” he said.
That all could change now, as Hamas and Israel begin trading missiles once again.