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Gaza Plan 'Relieves Israel of Responsibility'

World  (tags: middle-east, Gaza, palestine, israel, Palestinian Authority, Hamas, Fatah, UN, donors, Gaza Plan, reconstruction )

- 1672 days ago -
"Complicated mechanisms are being created to manoeuvre around the problem, not address it," said Tartir, programme director of Al Shabaka. "This means more money is wasted and Palestinians' dependency status is entrenched."


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Evelyn B (63)
Monday October 20, 2014, 3:44 am
Gaza plan 'relieves Israel of responsibility'
Gregg Carlstrom, Dalia Hatuqa
Last updated: 19 October 2014

Complicated mechanisms could risk prolonging the Gaza reconstruction efforts, critics argue.

Gaza City - A massive UN-supervised project to rebuild Gaza got underway earlier last week, but officials in Gaza and Ramallah are already doubtful that it will bring immediate aid to residents of the battered strip. The reconstruction plan calls for a highly intricate monitoring system, with restrictive measures on the import and distribution of building materials.

This comes at the behest of the Israelis, who have long barred the entry of basic construction materials - including cement, metal pipes and steel - into Gaza, insisting that they are 'dual use' items that Hamas could use to build underground tunnels for military purposes.

A new monitoring system will place security personnel and video cameras at distribution points for construction materials, and will vet both suppliers and buyers. And a central database, linked to the Palestinian Ministry of Civil Affairs, but available to Israeli intelligence agencies, will track material entering the Gaza Strip.

The details of this deal were revealed in a document named the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism, which outlined a UN-brokered agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA).
Palestinian officials have said that Gaza will need almost $7.8bn in aid to rebuild after the recent Israeli offensive, which lasted 51 days and left more than 2,000 Palestinians dead.

OPINION: Gaza donors: Will they get it right this time?

On Sunday October 12, donors pledged $5.4bn to rebuild the strip, but only $2.7bn is slated for reconstruction; the rest will support the PA's budget over the next three years.

"It's not enough. Gaza has been destroyed many times since 2000, starting with the second Intifada," said Faisal Abu Shahleh, a senior Fatah member in Gaza. "Israel destroyed all of the infrastructure."

Throughout the war, more than 60,000 houses were destroyed or damaged, forcing one in four Palestinians in Gaza to flee. Around 110,000 people remain displaced.

Approximately 1,000 industrial enterprises, including factories, were also affected. Close to 2.5 million tons of rubble will need to be removed, according to a 72-page Gaza reconstruction plan presented to donors in Cairo.
The Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism includes an Israeli-Palestinian-UN "high-level steering team" to oversee monitoring.

Israeli authorities are, however, worried about the likelihood of Hamas reneging on the agreement. "Given the poor record that Hamas has, Israel is not too confident in their good intentions," Hirschson added.

In Gaza, meanwhile, Hamas officials worry that Israel is the one lacking good intentions. The arrangement identifies "Israel's security concerns" as a priority, giving it the final say on big projects: Only pre-vetted vendors will be able to distribute building materials to Palestinian government - approved contractors.

Although the war brought renewed popular support for Hamas, the movement fears that prolonged devastation will start to eat away at its popularity. In neighbourhoods like Shuja'iya, which suffered some of the worst bombardment, there is already growing anger and frustration toward the group.
Madi Hassanein, 35, lost most of his three-story house to an Israeli airstrike. He now lives with his two wives and six children in the single surviving room, beneath several tons of rubble which engineers told him could collapse at any time. "I've lost hope," he said. "I place full responsibility on Hamas… what did they accomplish by causing this war? Look at how we are living. What kind of future is this for my children?"
Sami Abu Zuhri, the Hamas spokesman, tried to distance the group from the reconstruction efforts, suggesting that Hamas would blame the PA if things did not move swiftly. "We are not part of the rebuilding," he said. "The agreement is between the PA and the UN, there are many issues with this deal. We're not going to destroy it, because we want to rebuild immediately… but the PA is responsible for this."

The anger, however, is not limited to Hamas: As the reconstruction lags, many Palestinians in Gaza are growing equally frustrated with its rival Fatah, and even with international organisations like the UN.

Last April, Hamas and Fatah agreed to form a national reconciliation government, in an effort to end their seven-year schism. So far there has been little unity, though: the two factions are arguing over issues such as who should pay public servants in Gaza, a worsening crisis that has left 42,000 people without salaries since April.

Their bickering has already politicised the reconstruction effort. "The people aren't happy, and Hamas is responsible for that, which is why [the group has] tried to play it smart and say, 'We're not responsible,'" Abu Shahleh said. "To be honest, we're not comfortable with these arrangements either … and if it goes badly, everyone will blame the [consensus] government."

RELATED: PA struggles to gain foothold in Gaza

Critics say that the convoluted process risks prolonging reconstruction efforts. "Complicated mechanisms are being created to manoeuvre around the problem, not address it," said Ala Tartir, the programme director of Al Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network. "This means more money is wasted and Palestinians' dependency status is entrenched."

Oxfam has already warned that under current restrictions and the rate of imports, it could take more than 50 years to build the infrastructure the people of Gaza need. "Any mechanism needs to be much more than slightly better than what's currently in place," said Alun McDonald, the relief group's media coordinator in Jerusalem. "It will take more than a few truckloads [entering Gaza] every day… considering the enormity of the needs."

There is also widespread concern that, after three devastating wars in the past six years, any effort to rebuild Gaza will eventually be lost in a renewed military offensive. "You can't keep sticking a plaster on Gaza, which is what we are doing with aid coming in," McDonald said. "We need a long-term solution, which means the end of the blockade."

Equally controversial is Hamas' and Israel's absence from the Cairo conference where details of the post-war construction efforts were discussed.
"They are trying to manoeuvre around Hamas, even though, like it or not, it's the governing body in Gaza," Tartir said. "They've also relieved Israel of its responsibilities and gave it another incentive to do what it wants, while the donors paid for it."

Gregg Carlstrom reported from Gaza City and Dalia Hatuqa from Ramallah.

Bruce C D (89)
Monday October 20, 2014, 9:45 pm
Bomb them back to the stone age, so when the inevitable backlash results, Zionists and their supporters can claim they are no more than savages, reinforcing their racist stereotypes.

Meanwhile, the collective punishment, the brutal military occupation, the apartheid conditions, the illegal colonization project and insidious ethnic cleansing program, the persecution, oppression and denial of rights--all continue by Israel against Palestinians. This despite the fact that by 2020 Gaza will become mostly uninhabitable under the present unsustainable conditions. It's a Band-Aid for the afflicted, and a balm for Israel and the rest of the world that is complicit.

Evelyn B (63)
Monday October 20, 2014, 11:52 pm
Can't send another star, Bruce :^( :^)

Past Member (0)
Tuesday October 21, 2014, 8:35 am
They could have done a lot with what 30,000 rockets alone cost and dozens and dozens of tunnels. They found enough to build palaces and Grand Hotels, bought luxury items and automobiles.
If they were planning to accelerate aggression to the point of conflicts they should have undertaken proper preparations.
Better yet, build a real palestine so there'd be no aggressions.
Yeah, I believe in pipe dreams too.

Bruce C D (89)
Tuesday October 21, 2014, 11:13 am
Just like Native Americans, how dare them pesky indigenous Palestinian people who have lived on their land for centuries dare to stand up for their legal rights against Zionists who wish to "transfer" (ethnically cleanse) them. Palestinians spend far less defending themselves from Israel than does Israel on its aggressions against them.

The following cannot be emphasized enough:

The Use of Force

5. Israel is the occupying power in the Gaza Strip. As the occupier, Israel cannot be considered to be acting in self-defence under the rules of public international law in its resort to the use of force in Gaza. Israel did not respond to an armed attack by the military forces of another state; rather it acted as an occupying power using force to effect its control of the occupied territory and its domination over the occupied population. Under international law, people living under colonial rule or foreign occupation are entitled to resist occupation. Israel’s actions are those of an occupying power using force to maintain its occupation and to suppress resistance, rather than a state resorting to force in lawful self-defence. The ongoing occupation of Palestinian territories and the permanent blockade of Gaza are themselves acts of aggression as defined by the UN General Assembly in Resolution 3314 (1974) (Art. 3, a and c); the Tribunal notes that an aggressor cannot claim self-defence against the resistance to its aggression. Operation Protective Edge was part of the enforcement of the occupation and ongoing siege of the Gaza Strip. This siege amounts to collective punishment in violation of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Darlene Buckingham (100)
Tuesday October 21, 2014, 11:36 am For any who are interested this is a documentary by Max Egan. He has spent time with the Palestinian people and provides a balanced view of what they are experiencing under the Israeli occupation. The people, like most people, want only to live in peace and raise their children. The political divide and conquer that keeps us at war is something we have to overcome. As a Canadian - many Canadians are dismayed by the pro-Israel stance our government has taken - rather than pro-peace. I hope that you enjoy and share this video with others. It is half way in the video that he talks about they time he spent in Palestine.

Kathleen M (208)
Tuesday October 21, 2014, 3:00 pm
Noted. Thanks, Carrie. And thank you, Bruce! Can't add anything to your eloquent, and erudite post.

Evelyn B (63)
Tuesday October 21, 2014, 3:17 pm
Thanks Darlene - yes, by extension, this talk is relevant - this is a live link to the video Max Igan - Deprogramming the Collective - The Rediscovery of the Self I've watched part, but as it's 2 hours long, will have to go back when I have more time.

And as you say - POLITICAL divide & conquer .... tthe people themselves are just ordinary human beings, and actually, have far more in common than they have differences, if the politics could be less divisive & caring about human rights stronger.

Bruce, - you do know that the Pro-Israeli/ official Israeli position is "Israel is NOT occupying Gaza, we handed Gaza over to the Palestinians"?
Forgetting that blockading, putting under siege is another form of occupation, controlling the flow of the life blood of tha territory. And this didn't start after Hamas won democrtic elections and so Gaza was damned for electing them ... although the stranglehold became far closer to total from that time. But in the '90s it was already tough going through the border controls (as, indeed, with the control posts all across the West Bank ...). Not quite as bad as the Allenby Bridge crossing (where the physical checks could be very unpleasant) .... but bad. When you control all access and egress, most people recognise this as another form of occupation.

M B (62)
Tuesday October 21, 2014, 3:37 pm
Noted, thx for posting.

Evelyn B (63)
Tuesday October 21, 2014, 3:49 pm
By the way - the discussion of Palestine and Gaza in that video mentioned by Darlene is at around 41 minutes.

Aaron Bouchard (158)
Wednesday October 22, 2014, 6:42 am
noted thanks

M B (62)
Wednesday October 22, 2014, 7:30 am

Evelyn B (63)
Wednesday October 22, 2014, 10:37 am
Yes - he said it perfectly:

"To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity" - Nelson Mandela

Thanks, Monka, for the reminder
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