A coalition of international aid groups urged the world Monday to deliver on aid promises for Gaza reconstruction and pressure Israel to lift its blockade of the territory, where rebuilding efforts have stalled since last summer’s Israel-Hamas war.
Donor countries pledged $3.5 billion six months ago for rebuilding thousands of homes and businesses destroyed in the war, but reconstruction has barely begun and living conditions in the territory of 1.8 million people have only worsened, according to a report by the Association of International Development Agencies.
The report, signed by 46 aid groups, said only open borders and a durable Israel-Hamas cease-fire can bring economic, social and political stability to Gaza. Otherwise, “a return to conflict — and the cycles of damage and donor-funded reconstruction that accompany it — is inevitable,” the report said.
The groups said the international community should adopt a new Gaza policy, including by pressuring Israel to lift what they said is an illegal blockade. The report said most donors have been trying to work around the border restrictions, rather than challenging them.
Israel and Egypt have been enforcing tight access and trade restrictions since the Islamic militant group Hamas seized Gaza in 2007. Under the closure rules, the vast majority of Gaza residents cannot travel or export, though Israel permits imports of consumer goods to the territory.
Israel and Egypt say they need to maintain the closure because Hamas, shunned by much of the world as a terror group, poses a security threat. Israel has fought three wars with Hamas in the past six years, in part to try to halt Gaza rocket fire on Israeli towns.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon dismissed the report as “hostile and one-sided.” more