Saturday, 22 August 2015

Why has there been almost no reconstruction in Gaza?

Until this summer, not a single one of the homes totally destroyed during Israel’s assault on Gaza last year had been rebuilt.


The Israeli rights group Gisha, which monitors Israel’s siege of Gaza, tries to provides answers in a recent analysis, “Where’s the housing boom?”

The 51-day assault last summer destroyed or rendered uninhabitable 19,000 homes. More than 100,000 were damaged and more than 100,000 people in Gaza remain without permanent shelter.

A major reason for the fact that reconstruction is only just beginning is that between last August’s ceasefire and the end of July this year, Israel has allowed into Gaza just 6.5 percent of the construction supplies needed to repair years of destruction and accumulated housing needs.

But the story is more complex than that.

“Dual use”

A basic fact is that Israel still tightly regulates what comes in and out of Gaza, home to 1.8 million Palestinians.

Starting in June 2007, Israel has totally banned or severely restricted the entry of construction materials to Gaza. Since that time, Israel waged three devastating wars on the territory – in 2008-2009, 2012, and the most destructive yet, last summer.

The ban is implemented under the pretext that construction materials are “dual use” – they can be used for military purposes, such as building tunnels, as well as for civilian need.

Palestinian resistance fighters used such tunnels only to attack “legitimate military targets,” according to the recently published independent inquiry commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council into the last Gaza war.

Israel, the occupying power in Gaza, however, does not recognize any Palestinian right to resistance or self-defense.

The Israeli ban and Egypt’s closure of underground supply tunnels under its frontier with Gaza led to an almost total collapse of Gaza’s construction sector and helped push unemployment from an already staggering 28 percent in mid-2013 to 42 percent today.

Gisha says it “continues to object to the definition of a basic civilian commodity such as construction materials as ‘dual use,’ thus paving the way for blanket bans, especially when considering the fact that the ban has not proven effective in preventing tunnel building.” more


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