The war between Israel and Hamas could deal a “serious” blow to global economic development, the president of the World Bank told an investor conference in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.
“What just happened recently in Israel and Gaza — at the end of the day you put all this together, I think the impact on economic development is even more serious,” Ajay Banga said, adding: “I think we’re at a very dangerous juncture.”
Hamas militants stormed into Israel from the Gaza Strip on October 7 and killed at least 1,400 people, mostly civilians who were shot or burnt to death on the first day of the raid, according to Israeli officials.
The militants also took 222 people hostage, among them elderly people and young children, according to the Israeli authorities’ latest count.
The hostages include dozens of dual nationals and foreigners. More than 5,000 Palestinians, mainly civilians, have been killed in retaliatory Israeli bombardments of Gaza, according to its Hamas-run health ministry.
Banga was speaking at the annual Future Investment Initiative, often referred to as “Davos in the Desert”.
More than 6,000 delegates are registered for the three-day event that will feature appearances by global banking chiefs and the presidents of South Korea, Kenya and Rwanda, organisers say.
The violence in Israel and Gaza stands in stark contrast to the vision of a more stable and prosperous Middle East championed by Saudi Arabia, which this year rebuilt ties with Iran and was in talks towards recognising Israel before the fighting broke out.