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Israel-Palestine war: Israel trumpets Intel's $25bn investment as it pounds Gaza

Intel's decision to plow ahead with investment in chip plant comes as the war on Gaza takes an economic toll on Israel
A visitor interacts with a display by Intel at a technology exhibit at the Peres Centre for Peace and Innovation in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv on 3 September 2019 (AFP)

Intel is plowing ahead with a $25bn investment in Israel, providing a boost to the country as its offensive on Gaza begins to take an economic toll.

As part of the agreement, Israel's government will give Intel a $3.2bn grant to expand the US semiconductor company's Kiryat Gat chip manufacturing plant in southern Israel.

Intel announced its decision to move forward with the project - which is slated to be Israel's largest-ever investment by a company - as the country pushes ahead with its offensive on Gaza.

The decision comes amid mounting concerns about the economic toll the war on Gaza is having on Israel's economy.

Israel has also been trading fire regularly with Hezbollah on its border with Lebanon and the fighting has forced 60,000 Israelis from their homes, shuttering businesses in the region.

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Meanwhile, the Iran-aligned Houthis in Yemen have declared war on Israeli shipping.

Israel's Eilat Port has seen an 85 percent drop in activity since the Houthi attacks intensified, while the share prices of Israeli shipping companies have also soared as a result of the Houthi attacks.

Monthly applications for unemployment benefits in Israel have quadrupled from about 20,000 to 80,000, according to Israeli media reports.

'Unprecedented investment'

At the same time, Israel's callup of a record number of reservists has sapped skilled labour from the job market.

Israel is a tech export powerhouse and some analysts speculated that major tech companies would reconsider investing in Israel, if not in protest to Israel's offensive on Gaza, then out of concern about stability in the country or lack of available talent. 

Consumer spending at places like restaurants has also slumped and the war has impacted tourism.

Israel's finance ministry estimates that the war on Gaza is costing the country around $260m each day.

War on Gaza: Stock prices of shipping companies are soaring because of Houthi attacks
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Intel's announcement was quickly trumpeted by the Israeli government amid signs that the war is taking an economic toll.

"The choice of the global company Intel to approve the unprecedented investment of 25 billion dollars and to establish its new factory right here, in Israel, is important and significant," Israel's far-right finance minister, Bezalel Smotrich, said in a social media post.

"Such an investment, while Israel is at war with absolute evil," he wrote.

If Intel's announcement is a win for the Israeli government, it is also a blow to activists who have been eager to see signs that initiatives like the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement is gaining steam globally as a result of the war.

Intel's share price is up about 3 percent since the company announced its agreement with Israel on Tuesday.

Israel's $3bn grant to Intel is also a handsome offer at a time when Israel is lobbying the US for more military aid.

The US is Israel's closest ally, sending about $3.8bn in military assistance to Israel each year. The United States has also sent 230 cargo planes and 20 ships of military aid to Israel since the war on Gaza began in October.

Meanwhile, the US House of Representatives has approved an additional $14bn to the country for its Gaza offensive.

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