<html>
  <head>

    <meta http-equiv="content-type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8">
  </head>
  <body bgcolor="#FFFFFF" text="#000000">
    <div id="container" class="container font-size5">
      <div dir="ltr" style="display: block;" id="reader-header"
        class="header"> <b><small><small><small><a
href="https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/why-has-un-rebuilt-just-one-house-gaza"
                  id="reader-domain" class="domain"><a class="moz-txt-link-freetext" href="https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/why-has-un-rebuilt-just-one-house-gaza">https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/why-has-un-rebuilt-just-one-house-gaza</a></a></small></small></small></b>
        <h1 id="reader-title">Why has UN rebuilt just one house in Gaza?</h1>
        <div id="reader-credits" class="credits">
          <p class="node__submitted">
            <span class="field field-author"><a
                href="https://electronicintifada.net/people/ali-abunimah"
                typeof="skos:Concept" property="rdfs:label
                skos:prefLabel" datatype="">Ali Abunimah</a></span>
            <span class="field field-publication-date"><span
                class="date-display-single" property="dc:date"
                datatype="xsd:dateTime"
                content="2015-11-29T22:59:27+00:00"><br>
                29 November 2015</span></span> </p>
        </div>
      </div>
      <div class="content">
        <div style="display: block;" dir="ltr" id="moz-reader-content">
          <div
xml:base="https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/why-has-un-rebuilt-just-one-house-gaza"
            id="readability-page-1" class="page">
            <article class="node-15034 node node-blog view-mode-full
              node-is-page image-landscape">
              <figure class="file file-image file-image-jpeg"
                id="file-32553"><source media="(min-width: 72rem)"><figcaption
                  class="group-caption field-group-html-element"><small
                    class="credit"><span class="field field-publisher"></span></small></figcaption></figure>
              <p>In the whole period since Israel’s <a
href="https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/balance-un-gaza-report-cant-hide-massive-israeli-war-crimes">lethal
                  and devastating</a> summer 2014 attack on Gaza, the
                United Nations has provided assistance to just one
                family to rebuild its totally destroyed home.</p>
              <p>“I held the new keys in my hand; at that moment, I felt
                relieved and happy, and I wanted to give the keys to my
                wife and show her the house and everything in it,” Atef
                al-Zaza <a
href="http://www.unrwa.org/newsroom/features/%E2%80%9Cafter-70-days-i-held-new-keys-my-hands%E2%80%9D">said</a>
                as he took possession of the home he will share with his
                spouse Fatima and their 12 children in eastern Gaza
                City, last October.</p>
              <p>It replaces the home the al-Zaza family lost in July
                2014, during Israel’s bombardment. </p>
              <p><a
                  href="https://electronicintifada.net/tags/pierre-krahenbuhl">Pierre
                  Krähenbühl</a>, the head of <a
                  href="https://electronicintifada.net/tags/unrwa">UNRWA</a>,
                the UN agency for Palestine refugees, <a
href="https://unispal.un.org/DPA/DPR/unispal.nsf/47d4e277b48d9d3685256ddc00612265/5e126bb77cf0af8985257f03004e299d?OpenDocument">confirmed
                  the stunning fact</a> earlier this month that this
                remains the only totally destroyed house the UN has
                helped to rebuild.</p>
              <p>He also revealed that as of 18 November, his agency’s
                engineers had confirmed that 9,117 homes in Gaza were
                totally demolished, a similar number suffered severe or
                major damage and another 123,000 suffered minor damage.</p>
              <p>In July, the UN children’s agency UNICEF published this
                video highlighting the situation of some of the
                thousands of Gaza children still living in rubble:
              </p>
              <p>UNRWA has given money to about half the households
                needing minor repairs and to just over 1,000 families
                for repair of severe or major damage.</p>
              <p>But why are none of the totally destroyed homes being
                rebuilt?</p>
              <p>Palestinian groups say a key reason is UN complicity in
                the so-called <a
                  href="https://electronicintifada.net/tags/gaza-reconstruction-mechanism">Gaza
                  Reconstruction Mechanism</a>.</p>
              <h2>End the secrecy</h2>
              <p>Last week, 28 Palestinian civil society organizations
                wrote to <a
                  href="https://electronicintifada.net/tags/nickolay-mladenov">Nickolay Mladenov</a>,
                the UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace
                process, to express concern over the glacial pace of
                reconstruction.</p>
              <p>They are urging the UN to end the secrecy around the
                Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism.</p>
              <p>“Since its creation in September 2014, the agreement
                has not been publicized and Palestinians have been left
                without details or timelines, which in fact conflicts
                with the principles of transparency and accountability
                as well as fundamental human rights and humanitarian
                principles,” the letter, a copy of which was sent to The
                Electronic Intifada, states.</p>
              <p>The Palestinian groups – which include <a
                  href="https://electronicintifada.net/tags/maan-development-center-0">Ma’an
                  Development Center</a>, the <a
href="https://electronicintifada.net/tags/gaza-community-mental-health-programme">Gaza
                  Community Mental Health Programme</a>, <a
                  href="https://electronicintifada.net/tags/badil">Badil</a>
                and the <a
href="https://electronicintifada.net/tags/union-agricultural-work-committees">Union
                  of Agricultural Work Committees</a> – also launched an
                <a
href="https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/UN_Special_Coordinator_for_the_Middle_East_Peace_Process_and_PA_President_No_to_Gaza_Reconstruction_Mechanism_GRM/">online
                  petition</a> to press the UN to break the logjam. It
                has almost 1,000 signatures.</p>
              <p>As The Electronic Intifada <a
href="https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/under-cover-reconstruction-un-and-pa-become-enforcers-israels-gaza-siege">revealed
                  in October 2014</a>, the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism
                involves a complicated system of surveillance and
                Israeli pre-approval that gives the occupation
                authorities even more intrusive control over the
                devastated lives of Palestinians in Gaza.</p>
              <p>As part of the system, both the UN and the Palestinian
                Authority collect detailed information on Palestinian
                families that is then passed on to Israel.</p>
              <p>“So rather than ease and eventually end the siege, the
                [Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism] entrenches and
                institutionalizes the blockade and perpetuates the
                status quo by reinforcing Israel’s control over the Gaza
                Strip,” the 28 groups say in their letter.</p>
              <p>In August, the Israeli group <a
                  href="https://electronicintifada.net/tags/gisha">Gisha</a>,
                which monitors Israel’s siege of Gaza, <a
href="https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/why-has-there-been-almost-no-reconstruction-gaza">published
                  a report</a> illustrating the ways the Gaza
                Reconstruction Mechanism and its onerous procedures,
                combined with Israel’s ongoing siege, prevents
                reconstruction.</p>
              <p>Due to the devastation to Gaza’s economy, those lucky
                enough to obtain building supplies such as cement
                through the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism often sell
                them on the black market merely to make ends meet.</p>
              <p>One major obstacle is that Israel bans or severely
                restricts so-called “dual use” construction materials
                which Israel says can be used for military purposes,
                such as building tunnels, as well as for civilian needs.</p>
              <h2>Broken promises</h2>
              <p>But another level of international neglect and
                complicity is also responsible for the fact that so much
                of Gaza remains in ruins.</p>
              <p>UNRWA head Krähenbühl also revealed that more than
                47,000 refugee families have received permission to
                repair their homes through the Gaza Reconstruction
                Mechanism.</p>
              <p>But none has received a single dollar “due to lack of
                sufficient funding.” Another 7,200 families who have
                received permission to rebuild totally destroyed homes
                are in the same boat.</p>
              <p>Last month, The Electronic Intifada <a
href="https://electronicintifada.net/content/gaza-aid-pledges-fail-materialize/14961">profiled</a>
                one family, that of Ahmad al-Hamayda, his six siblings
                and their elderly parents, who are in this situation.</p>
              <p>In October 2014, international donors <a
href="https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/maureen-clare-murphy/who-benefits-billions-pledged-gaza-reconstruction">pledged
                  $5.4 billion</a> dollars to rebuild Gaza.</p>
              <p>The Palestinian Authority in Ramallah announced it
                would siphon off about half that money for its own use.</p>
              <p>But a year later, only a third of the funds pledged for
                Gaza had actually been paid.</p>
              <p>UNRWA <a
href="https://unispal.un.org/DPA/DPR/unispal.nsf/47d4e277b48d9d3685256ddc00612265/5e126bb77cf0af8985257f03004e299d?OpenDocument">says</a>
                that just $247 million has been pledged for its
                emergency shelter program, leaving a shortfall of almost
                half a billion dollars.</p>
              <h2>Hold Israel accountable</h2>
              <p>In his most recent briefing to the UN Security Council
                on 19 November, UN special representative Mladenov only
                briefly mentioned Gaza.</p>
              <p>The Bulgarian diplomat did try to put a positive gloss
                on the utter failure of the Gaza Reconstruction
                Mechanism, including lauding unspecified bureaucratic
                changes.</p>
              <p>He welcomed Israel’s removal of aggregate – gravel and
                sand used in construction – from the list of dual-use
                items.</p>
              <p>But what Israel gives with one hand, it takes away with
                the other.</p>
              <p>“The good news, however, has been tempered by the
                addition of other items, including timber, to the list
                this year,” Mladenov admitted.</p>
              <p>Officially, Israel doesn’t allow in wood planks more
                than a centimeter thick. But <a
href="http://gisha.org/en-blog/2015/11/05/wood-is-also-essential-for-reconstruction/">according
                  to Gisha</a>, it all but bars any import of wood into
                Gaza. “These additions hinder Gaza’s reconstruction, and
                I call on the Israeli authorities to reconsider their
                decisions,” Mladenov said.</p>
              <p>But there’s absolutely no reason to expect such
                mild-mannered pleas to change Israel’s behavior.</p>
              <p>That’s why the 28 groups that wrote to Mladenov last
                week want a totally different approach.</p>
              <p>“We call upon the UN to rethink its strategy from one
                of working around the blockade to one which holds Israel
                accountable for the crisis in Gaza and pressures it to
                immediately and completely lift the blockade,” they say.</p>
              <p>Their first demand is for the UN to publish the secret
                agreement with Israel governing the Gaza Reconstruction
                Mechanism.</p>
              <p>After all, if the system is as effective and benign as
                UN bureacrats claim, what do they have to hide?</p>
              <br>
            </article>
          </div>
        </div>
      </div>
      <div> </div>
    </div>
  </body>
</html>