Since the war finished in August very little has changed in regards to the siege in Gaza, except that the old prison guards (the Israelis) have been changed with new ones (the U.N.). The prison governor remains the same, it`s still the Israeli government, the people who says what can go in, how much, when and who can receive it. The U.N’s. new role as prison guards is to enforce the rules but as the U.N. has little to no experience of being a prison guard this means that the small amount of reconstruction that has been allowed in, has still to reach the people. The Palestinian people have just gone though one of the most savage bombardments in history and now faces into the prospect of trying to rebuild their lives and homes. But where to start is the question? One would think to start with the emergency aid agencies like Oxfam, Mercy Corps, Save the Children and so on. The problem with that is , their hands are tied, they can only give out the aid that is at their disposal and as the amount of supplies allowed in is miniscule in relation to the size of the problem it puts these aid agencies in a very awkward position. It is seen by many Palestinians that they are helping some and not others, which leads to accusation;s of them helping certain groups or helping one area and not others. Sadly this can lead to unrest as the people have had enough and can`t take much more. We have seen more fights break out on the streets in the past couple of months than we have in the past 3 years; this is a sign of the frustration that people are feeling. The second port of call should be the U.N. as they have been put in charge of reconstruction. Now any one that has ever dealt with the U.N. will know it`s a land of bureaucracy and the restrictions the Israeli’s have imposed on the distribution of reconstruction materials make it virtually impossible for the Palestinians to get anything rebuilt. So far just 130 trucks of reconstruction materials have come into Gaza and the first of that was only released 2 weeks ago. Out of this 130 trucks, 43 of them were cement, which works out at less than half a truck of cement per day since the end of the war. The U.N. is saying that at the current rate material is entering Gaza it will take 18 to 20 years to rebuild it. To receive any materials you need to provide the following, Name and I.D. no., the GPS co-ordinates of your house, the U.N. code written on your house, the number of people in your house and their I.D. numbers. There are a few small problems with this,
- Things should be made easier for people to receive aid not more difficult
- Most Palestinians see this as an information collection agency and that all information will be passed onto the Israelis, whom must Palestinians here don`t trust.
- And of course there is such small amounts, who do you give it to first and which one is in greater need.
The U.N. must have the courage to turn around to the Israelis and say “with the current restrictions that you have in place the situation is unworkable” and demand that the restrictions be lifted. If this doesn`t happen and happen soon we will have a major humanitarian disaster on our hand. We can already start to see this happen with diarrhoea and other such disease rife in schools where the displaced are crammed into makeshift shelters. In other areas aid agencies have handed out what only can be described as tin sheds but they call them caravans. These maybe fit for purpose in other parts of the world (dry countries) but not in Gaza and certainly not in winter time. When the first rains came most of the 4 meter by 3 meter tin shed’s which is supposed to house an entire family showed there flaws, water came up through the drain pipes, water came in through a hole that is supposed to be a window, and of course came up though the floor, this isn`t counting the fact that there is no insulation value what so ever in these sheds. Basically leaving it unliveable, but when you have nowhere else to go what can you do? As a parent try and picture trying to live like this with 8 children, trying to keep them warm and dry, trying to keep them safe and healthy, it`s an impossible task. The world pledged $5.4 billion to rebuild Gaza, well , the world can pledge $100 billion it won`t make any difference until the core of the problem is resolved and that is the siege itself. Israel say it`s for security reasons that they have imposed the longest siege in world history, but is it? Since the siege was imposed all good’s that enter Gaza must come through Israel. It is estimated that Israel will receive 45% of the $5.4 billion from good;s purchased in Israel and this 45% excludes transportation and co-ordination cost. Below is a link to an article which describes how if an aid agency tries to bring goods from outside Israel it is held up for months with red tape and hit with exorbitant transportation and co-ordination cost leaving the agency with no choice but to buy Israeli made goods. http://english.pnn.ps/index.php/human-rights/8600-eu-source-gaza-reconstruction-aid-is-made-in-israel It has been the same case for the previous 2 onslughts, with Israel being the main beneficiary, Gaza is a cash cow for the Israeli economy. The U.S. gives Israel $3 billion a year in military aid and every 2 years Israel bombs Gaza and every 2 years the world pledges billions to rebuild Gaza and Israel receives most of this which keeps Israel`s economy running strong. All these figures are excluding the ordinary day to day running of Gaza, the private sector which is worth billions more to the Israeli economy. Why would Israel ever want to end the siege on Gaza? The answer is it will never end the siege unless it is forced to. So it is up to the likes of the E.U. to put enough pressure on Israel by suspending the association agreement until Israel lifts the siege by air, sea and land and finally break down the wall’s of this prison called Gaza.
Derek . Video below pictures…
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