’20 years needed to rebuild homes in Gaza because of Israeli restrictions’
By Russia Today (RT)*, 3 September 2014 — It will take 20 years to rebuild only houses in Gaza, not schools, not hospitals, not other civilian infrastructure, which has been damaged during Israeli operations, Ruth Allan of the Norwegian Refugee Council, told RT.*
Ruins in Beit Hanoun, August 2014 Photos of the town of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip. Taken by Muhammad Sabah, B’Tselem field researcher in Gaza, on 5 August 2014, in the course of the ceasefire. Whole sections of Beit Hanoun have been demolished, making it one of the hardest hit communities in the recent offensive, along with Gaza City, Beit Lahiya, Khuza’ah and Rafah. | Wikimedia Commons
A long-term truce in Gaza was agreed with Israel last week. Israel Defense Forces began operation Protective Edge in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip on 8 July. According to the IDF the operation was to stop rocket fire from Gaza into Israel. More than 2,100 people, mostly Palestinians, died during the 2014 Israeli-Gaza conflict. UN and human rights groups said almost 75 percent of the casualties were civilians.
RT: Two decades to repair seems a long time since Gaza is such a small territory. Just how bad is the situation in your opinion?
Ruth Allan: Basically, there has been an unprecedented amount of destruction and damage caused as a result of this Israeli operation in Gaza. The Norwegian Refugee Council as the lead agency of the shelter cluster and has calculated that it will take 20 years to rebuild the homes that are needed in Gaza.
And the way we have come to this analysis is by knowing that 17,000 homes were destroyed in Operation Protective Edge. On top of that 5,000 homes have still not been rebuilt from previous military operations here in Gaza. And also there are 75,000 homes that are needed because of the natural increase in the population. So there is a short fall of 100,000 homes.
RT: How difficult is to supply Gaza with materials for infrastructure rebuilding?
RA: Bringing in building materials to Gaza is very difficult because of the Israeli blockade which prevents movement of materials and people in and out of the Gaza Strip. So basically with the border crossing between Israel and Gaza which is open we have calculated that you need 7.5 trucks of gravel which is obviously used for making concrete to build one house! Based on this calculation, on the current Israeli imposed restrictions on Gaza, we think that it will take 20 years to rebuild houses. And that is only houses! Not schools, not hospitals, not any of the other civilian infrastructure which has been damaged, only houses.
RT: How will those affected families go about their lives with nowhere to live as rebuilding takes place?
RA: There are several things that are currently happening within Gaza to try and provide some kind of shelter and homes for those who were made homeless. Several local authorities are providing schools where people are currently staying, and the Palestinian Authority, as well as international agencies, is looking at providing transitional solutions to this shelter problem. The reconstruction plans are made.[The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT] neither are they necessarily those of Human Wrongs Watch. (*Source”: Russia Today (RT). Go to Original.)
****Destroyed ambulance in w:Shuja’iyya in the Gaza Strip | 6 August 2014 | Author: Boris Niehaus (www.1just.de) | Wikimedia Commons
Gaza reconstruction will take 20 years, says UN-backed authority
On 31 August 2014, Russia Today (RT) reported** that a UN backed construction authority has said rebuilding Gaza’s battered and neglected housing stock will take at least 20 years as thousands of houses were razed or suffered damage in Israel’s Protective Edge operation.
Shelter Cluster, an international organization involved in assessing post-conflict reconstruction, which is co-chaired by the UN refugee agency and the Red Cross, says that 17,000 houses were destroyed or severely damaged during the seven week war between Israel and Hamas.
An additional 5,000 homes still needed work after previous wars, while Gaza with its 1.8 million people squeezed into 5046/km2 of land has a housing deficit of 75,000 houses.
Palestinian officials have put the cost of rebuilding Gaza at $6 billion, but any reconstruction efforts will be hampered by a blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt since Hamas seized power in Gaza in 2007.
Israel has severely restricted the import of concrete and other building materials into Gaza fearing that they could be used to reinforce bunkers and cross border attack tunnels, which Hamas uses for its rocket attacks on Israel.
But in what might be a significant concession the Israeli defense establishment are expected to recommend to politicians that they should be generous in indirect negotiations with Hamas, while discussing conditions for a permanent ceasefire.
A senior military source told Hareetz that it is in Israel’s interest to avoid too much economic pressure on Gaza.
“If we can assist by expanding fishing grounds and easing restrictions on border crossings of people and goods into and from Israel, this will help maintain the quiet,” the unnamed source said.
At present Israel independently supervises goods that are moved in and out of Gaza without any international participation.But the source said that if effective independent supervision could be organized and managed then more cement and concrete could be allowed through to aid the rebuilding process as long as it isn’t diverted to Hamas.
Egypt, in its turn, does not plan to fully open its border crossing with Gaza at Rafah. Before the last Israeli Gaza war, the so-called Operation Protective Edge, Egypt was allowing a trickle of about 100-200 people a day but on some days the crossing was closed. Egypt may double the number of people it allows to cross but that will be it, meaning that how the reconstruction of Gaza progresses will depend largely on Israel.
As well as the huge challenge of reconstruction, the Israeli defense establishment recommended that fishing rights be extended and guaranteed and that the salaries of 43,000 employees linked to the strip’s Hamas government be transferred; earlier this year Israel froze the money. (**Source: Russia Today (RT). Go to Original.
***Photos of the town of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip. Taken by Muhammad Sabah, B’Tselem field researcher in Gaza, on 5 August 2014, in the course of the ceasefire. Whole sections of Beit Hanoun have been demolished, making it one of the hardest hit communities in the recent offensive, along with Gaza City, Beit Lahiya, Khuza’ah and Rafah. | Source: http://www.btselem.org/photoblog/20140810_beit_hanun | Wikimedia Commons
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