UN report: Israel’s blockade obstructs reconstruction efforts in Gaza

UN report: Israel’s blockade obstructs reconstruction efforts in Gaza

GAZA,  A UN report on Sunday said the Israeli blockade hinders international efforts to reconstruct the post-war Gaza Strip, adding that most of the property and infrastructure damaged in Israel’s war is still unrepaired.

The report, published by the UN development program, said that much of the repair work was carried out by using building materials smuggled in through tunnels from neighboring Egypt to circumvent Israeli-Egyptian blockade.

Gaza’s 1.5 million people have largely relied on a web of tunnels beneath the border area with Egypt since Israel and Egypt tightened frontier controls after the Islamic Movement of Hamas won the legislative election in 2006.

The tunnels are used to bring in basic goods such as food, household appliances, building materials and livestock.

Constrained by Israeli and Egyptian restrictions, the report said, traditional international aid donors find themselves severely handicapped to assist Gaza efficiently.

“Many members of the international community, including the UN, have refrained, thus far, from utilizing materials identified as coming through the tunnels, subsequently limiting their role in reconstruction,” it said.

“While some recovery is taking place, the realities on the ground show that the international community is, by and large, rendered ineffective in addressing the needs of the people in Gaza.”

The UN says at least 6,268 homes in the densely populated and impoverished Gaza were destroyed or severely damaged during the Israeli military aggression between December 27, 2008 and January 18, 2009.

The UN report examines reconstruction activities carried out between the end of the 23-day Israeli war in January 2009 and January 2010. During that period, it said, only 25 percent of the damage was repaired, much of it by local recycling of rubble and debris.

It said that with regard to reconstruction of homes and agricultural infrastructure, Arab and Islamic organizations were more effective in helping Gaza people than western international agencies, which were hampered by the Israeli blockade on materials.

The report cited some of these organizations such as the Islamic relief, the Qatar Red Crescent, Qatar charity, human appeal international, Al-Rahma charity association, and Mercy Malaysia.

The report said that while more than 173 million dollars was spent on repairs in 2009, a further 527 million dollars is needed just to return Gaza to its physical state prior to the Israeli war.

In another context related to the Israeli blockade, the Gaza power company warned that the power crisis in Gaza may exacerbate during the summer if it did not receive sufficient shipments of fuel.

It explained that the high temperature in the summer will reduce the productive capacity of the power plant, which is operating with only one generator after the other ones were turned off, from 30 to 20 megawatts.