[News] Israel benefits from billions pledged for Gaza reconstruction

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Oct 14 11:46:16 EDT 2014

  Who benefits from billions pledged for Gaza reconstruction?

Submitted by Maureen Clare Murphy on Tue, 10/14/2014 - 13:18

A donor conference hosted in Cairo on Sunday to raise funds for the 
reconstruction of war-devastated Gaza has boasted $5.4 billion 
in pledges from various Western and Arab governments.

Yet Israel is the true beneficiary of this aid money. The self-declared 
international community has once again footed the reconstruction bill as 
it arms Israel with the weaponry and ensures it the impunity that only 
rewards its brutal onslaught on Gaza and essentially guarantees its 

"This is the third time in less than six years that together with the 
people of Gaza, we have been forced to confront a reconstruction 
effort," an exasperated US Secretary of State John Kerry stated 
at the conference, as though this summer's bloodshed was something other 
than inevitable given all those arms Washington lavished on Israel, 
along with the monetary aid and diplomatic cover since the large-scale 
assaults in November 2012 and winter 2008-09.

Parties involved in the donor conference are making only the most 
minimal efforts to pretend that the priority is the survivors in Gaza, 
where more than one in every thousand of the nearly 1.8 million 
Palestinians there, most of whom are refugees, were killed.

The Palestinian Authority, based in the occupied West Bank city of 
Ramallah, has already announced that half of the pledges raised at 
Sunday's conference will not even make it to Gaza.

    Gaza pledges diverted to Ramallah

Instead, those funds will be diverted 
<http://maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=732989> to the Palestinian 
Authority's budget for unspecified purposes.

Though the PA did not say how it will spend the money raised at the Gaza 
reconstruction conference that it earmarked for itself, "the security 
sector has grown faster than any other part of the Palestinian 
Authority" in the past decade, as noted by Sabrien Amrov and Alaa Tartir 
<http://electronicintifada.net/people/alaa-tartir> in a recent policy 
published by the Palestinian think-tank Al-Shabaka 

Last year, 26 percent of the PA's budget was spent on security (compared 
with just 16 percent for education, nine percent for health and a 
minuscule one percent on agriculture, historically the backbone of the 
Palestinian economy). Forty-four percent of PA civil servants are 
employed in the security sector --- more than any other, Amrov and 
Tartir point out.

The Palestinian Authority --- which has already blocked 
efforts to bring Israeli war crimes in Gaza this summer before the 
International Criminal Court --- is led by Mahmoud Abbas, who recently 
described collaboration with Israeli occupation forces in the West Bank 
as "sacred 

    PA seizes opportunity

More than forty Palestinians have been killed 
by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank so far this year; fourteen 
were killed during the equivalent period in 2013. "Security 
coordination" is obviously not concerned with securing the preservation 
of Palestinian lives.

As pointed out by Amrov and Tartir, "the armed resistance that was once 
considered an inseparable part of the Palestinian struggle for 
self-determination is being dealt with by the PA as a form of dissent 
that needs not just policing but eradication and criminalization."

The current paradigm of security coordination, state Amrov and Tartir, 
is "to criminalize resistance against the occupation and leave Israel 
--- and its trusted minions --- in sole possession of the use of arms 
against a defenseless population."

As the Palestinian Authority which serves as the policing arm of the 
Israeli occupation positions itself as the executor of Gaza's 
reconstruction, this will surely be used as an opportunity for those who 
seek to dismantle the armed resistance (which defended Gaza and 
demonstrated greater discipline and tactical capability than it did 
during any prior confrontation with Israel).

Though the PA has jockeyed for this role to sideline the Hamas 
leadership in Gaza, any attempts to rebuild are subject to Israel's 
ultimate authority.

(It is worth noting that the Palestine Liberation Organization told 
<http://maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=732802> the Ma'an News 
Agency on Sunday that no date has yet been set for implementing 
reconstruction projects in Gaza.)

Reminding observers who is really in charge, West Bank-based PA 
ministers including Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah were initially denied 
<http://maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=732802> permits by Israel 
to visit Gaza, which remains under closure and economic siege imposed by 
Israel and enforced by donor conference host Egypt.

    "More than 50 years to rebuild"

The international aid agency Oxfam warned last week 
that money pledged at the global donor conference "will languish in bank 
accounts for decades before it reaches people, unless long-standing 
Israeli restrictions on imports are lifted."

As the importation of basic construction material into Gaza has been 
prohibited with few exceptions since 2007, and the supply tunnels under 
the border with Egypt largely destroyed, Palestinians are unable to rebuild.

Oxfam added that "under current restrictions and rate of imports it 
could take more than 50 years to build the 89,000 new homes, 226 new 
schools, as well as the health facilities, factories and water and 
sanitation infrastructure that people in Gaza need."

No matter how much money international donors raise for reconstruction, 
Israel determines what gets in and out of Gaza.

Truckloads of construction materials brought in to Gaza last month were 
"designated for projects pre-approved by Israeli authorities and to be 
implemented by international organizations in Gaza," the United Nations 
Agency for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs notes 
in a recent weekly monitoring report.

Israel's total stranglehold on Gaza's economy also applies to exports 
--- only two truckloads 
of which were permitted through the Israeli-controlled commercial 
crossing last month, the first trucks of exports since June.

    Accountability or complicity

The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee 
(BNC) condemns the failure to bring meaningful pressure on Israel to end 
the siege that had brought the economy to its knees even before the 
destruction it wrought on Gaza this summer --- during which 419 
businesses and workshops were damaged, with 128 completely destroyed.

"Donor money pledges are no substitute for holding Israel accountable 
for its grave violations of international law, including war crimes and 
crimes against humanity, and achieving justice for the Palestinian 
victims," the BNC stated 
on Sunday.

"Israel's blockade and repeated military assaults against the occupied 
Gaza Strip are part and parcel of systematic Israeli efforts to 
permanently separate the tiny Gaza Strip from the West Bank and 'get 
rid' of its large Palestinian population, most of them refugees of the 
1948 Nakba with unresolved rights and claims in Israel," the statement adds.

The BNC criticizes international agencies including the United Nations 
and the International Committee of the Red Cross 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/icrc> for operating "within the 
confines of Israel's policy of separation and collective punishment."

Without also adopting a comprehensive and binding military embargo on 
Israel, donor states, international agencies and nongovernmental 
organizations are complicit in an unjust and illegal policy of 
collective punishment, the BNC makes clear. And there is no mechanism of 
accountability to the Palestinian public.

    Abandoning Gaza

Given all of these realities, it is tragic but unsurprising that young 
Palestinians in Gaza, facing unemployment rates as high as 60 percent, 
have lost hope and are putting their lives in the hands of smugglers in 
a bid to reach Europe and a future.

"This has never happened before ... Even in the worst of times, people 
never considered abandoning the Gaza Strip," Sara Roy, who has studied 
Gaza's economy for three decades, told Bettina Marx in an interview 
for Deutsche Welle.

"The middle class has largely been wiped out," Roy said.

Even the deliberate sinking of a ship carrying an estimated 500 
passengers --- many of them Palestinians from Gaza, the vast majority of 
whom are presumed to have drowned --- off the coast of Malta last month 
hasn't stemmed <http://maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=732870> the 
mass migration from the Strip via clandestine tunnels.

In August 2012 the United Nations issued a report 
studying whether Gaza would be a livable place in the year 2020. But 
Gaza's unlivable reality is already here.

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