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Palestinian Authority: Reconstructing Gaza will cost at least $ 6 billion

August 08, 2014
Section: [Main News] [Life under Occupation]
Tags: [Gaza] [Operation Protective Edge]

Construction work in Gaza in May 2011 | Mohammed Yousif Azaiza (Flickr)

The reconstruction of Gaza will cost at least $ 6 billion, according to an initial estimate made by Palestinian Deputy Prime Minister Mohammed Mustafa, Reuters reported.

Doctor Mustafa Barghouti told Palestine Monitor that at least 15,000 houses have been demolished on the besieged strip, 5,000 of them to complete destruction.

Basic infrastructure has to be rebuilt as well. After Israel attacked the only power plant in Gaza, 80% of the population has had electricity for only four hours per day. Damage to sewerage and water systems has affected two-thirds of Gazans.

The UN chief Ban Ki-moon said on Wednesday that this would be the last time the United Nations would be ready to help in the rebuilding process. 

“Do we have to continue like this – build, destroy, and build and destroy?” he asked during a meeting of the General Assembly. “The senseless cycle of suffering in Gaza and the West Bank, as well as in Israel, must end.”

Promises of international aid

The United Arab Emirates has vowed to donate $ 40 million for the reconstruction of homes and rehabilitation of hospitals, education and other services in Gaza.

Qatar, one of the few international supporters of Hamas, pledged $ 400 million for construction projects in Gaza in 2012. The Gulf State has yet to declare whether it will donate anything to help reconstruct Gaza after this current conflict. 

The European Commission increased its humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip by 5 million euros ($ 6.83 million) in July. In total, the commission provides Gazans with 31.6 million euros ($ 42.3 million) during this year.

“Our goal should not be to just rebuild Gaza, but to make sure that its economy can be kick-started, leading to sustainable socio-economic development for the population,” said Peter Stano, responsible for the Palestinian portfolio of the European neighborhood policy.

UNRWA (the UN agency for Palestinian refugees) has launched an appeal for $ 187,600,000 in emergency aid for Gaza. Part of the money would be used for early recovery activities, such as shelter and installation repair.

Mohammed Mustafa says he hopes that this time international donors will live up to their words. According to him, only a fraction of the $ 5 billion donations promised worldwide  were ever sent to the Palestinians after the 2008-2009 Gaza War.

Restrictions on concrete

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that the use of cement and mortar for the reconstruction in Gaza has to be monitored so that Hamas does not use the materials for re-building its tunnels, Jerusalem Post reported.

Netanyahu said that, without a follow-up mechanism for all financial donations, Hamas would use the international aid to “manufacture rockets and missiles”, leading to yet another war.

These fears are not unfounded. The Israeli forces estimate that each tunnel they have discovered in Gaza, during the current operation, will have required 350 truckloads of building materials, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. At least three dozen tunnels have been discovered and destroyed in total by the Israeli forces.

“Hamas is not the recipient of our assistance,” Stano confirmed, adding that the European Commission works in Gaza with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), UNRWA, World Food Program (WFP), and Oxfam.

The Israeli restrictions on importing cement have already severely affected the enclave’s construction industry, which made up 28% of Gaza’s gross domestic product before 2007, when Hamas took over the strip and Israel significantly increased its blockade.

Lack of materials forced Gazans to re-build their houses with mud after the 2008-2009 Gaza War, according to Electronic Intifada. Back then, cement could still be smuggled in through tunnels from Egypt, although it cost ten times more than before the siege.

After the ouster of pro-Hamas Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi in 2013, a number of these tunnels were destroyed. In the aftermath of this conflict, Gazans will find themselves increasingly dependent on international aid.


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