Gaza Reconstruction Efforts Held Hostage

Saudi King Pledges $1 Billion to Rebuild Destroyed Cities, But Will Israel Let Anything In?

The 1.5 million residents of the Gaza Strip haven’t even finished digging all the bodies of friends and family out of the rubble yet, but already thought is being given to how the towns, cities and refugee camps leveled in the 22-day Israeli onslaught will be reconstructed… and whether Israel will allow it.

Money doesn’t seem to be a problem, as the Saudi King has pledged $1 billion to help facilitate the repairs. A significant portion of the overall estimate of the damage done during the war, which damaged at least 15% of the structures in the densely populated strip, it will likely go a long way to returning Gazans to their former life of only relative want.

Or rather it would, if Israel was inclined to allow reconstruction to begin, and there is no indication that is the case. Though the war is over, the government keeps tight control over the Gaza borders, allowing only a minimal amount of humanitarian aid to enter. Its long list of “banned materials” includes not just humanitarian staples like clothing and shoes, but things like steel and cement, which would presumably make rebuilding those refugee camps quite a task.

The only way anything but food and medicine (and that in very limited supply) can come into the Gaza Strip is through the smuggling tunnels, which Israel has managed to damage but not fully destroy. Still, they’ve said they will consider any use of those tunnels as an attack on Israel and will resume their attacks, so they’re likely not an option for large scale reconstruction efforts.

Israel seems to have the support of the European Union on this, as they reportedly oppose any reconstruction effort that occurs before Hamas has been removed from power, and are suggesting some arrangement to return the rival Fatah party to power. “We don’t want to go on to reconstruct Gaza every I-don’t-know-how-many-years” is the rationale, but for untold thousands of newly homeless Palestinians, who remember a time not so long ago that Fatah was the evil terrorist organization no one wanted to deal with, that is liable to sound more like “we don’t want to reconstruct Gaza, period.” Which would be less of a problem if they weren’t getting in the way of other people doing it.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.