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Israeli bombardment costs Lebanon at least $1.5bn

Israel Lebanon damage Marwan Naamani/Zuma
Students at the Lebanese American University in Beirut burn pictures of Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu during a demonstration
  • 1,700 buildings destroyed, 14,000 damaged
  • Extensive damage to infrastructure
  • War still raging

Israel’s bombardment of southern Lebanon in response to the Hamas attacks on October 7 has caused more than $1.5 billion of damage to buildings and infrastructure, the country’s Southern Council says.

The president of the council, Hicham Haidar, told AGBI that damage to residential and commercial buildings stands at $1 billion, with 1,700 buildings destroyed and 14,000 damaged.

Damage to infrastructure including water, electricity, roads and health services, accounts for the remaining $500 million. 

Agricultural damage, which Haidar said was difficult to study given the continuing hostilities, is not included in those figures. 

However, Haidar said, 10 million square metres of land has been exposed to white phosphorus, which is likely to prove expensive to remove. 

Haidar said that the total cost of damage in Southern Lebanon was “much higher” than the $1.5 billion cited by the council.

The figures also do not include the indirect effects of the barrage, such as lost tourism, reduced agricultural output, and the economic effects of the displacement of more than 93,000 people from the south.

Agence France Presse reported that 390 people have been killed on the Lebanese side since hostilities began on October 7, including more than 70 civilians.

Israel says that 13 soldiers and nine civilians have been killed on its side of the border.

Hezbollah attacks on Israel have increased in recent weeks, while Israeli forces have struck deeper inside Lebanon, fueling concerns that the conflict could expand into a larger war.

Earlier this year a Lebanese think tank, the Policy Initiative, published a study suggesting that all-out war could cost the country $7.7 billion, almost half of Lebanon’s shrinking GDP.

The government has not announced any firm plans for the redevelopment of the south after the cessation of hostilities. In January it unveiled an austerity budget for 2024, prioritising the reduction of the national debt burden.

Haidar said that he was unaware of any efforts to attract investment or international aid. “I think the government will search for donors to help with rebuilding afterwards,” he said.

The World Bank estimated Lebanon’s GDP in 2023 at just under $18 billion. It had predicted a slight growth but has since revised likely growth down to -0.2 percent. The bank predicts growth for 2024 of 0.5 percent.

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