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Gaza reconstruction process to start by October

  • September 25, 2021

Gaza city – The first phase of the reconstruction process has kicked off in the Gaza Strip, after four months of Israeli deadly offensive on Gaza last May.

The reconstruction plan is set by the Gaza’s ministry of housing and public works and, the Qatari committee for Gaza reconstruction and other international parties.

Naji Sarhan, under-secretary of Gaza’s public works ministry, told Al Jazeera that several countries have pledged to contribute to the Gaza reconstruction process and agreed to start works by October.

“Qatar pledged 500 million US dollars to rebuild the residential units destroyed in the recent Israeli offensive, where Egypt pledged 500 million dollars that will go to the infrastructure and destroyed streets.” He said.

The 11-day offensive, which killed 256 Palestinians including 66 children, was marked by its intensity, the targeting of civilian structures and infrastructure.

about 2,000 homes were destroyed, in addition to another 22,000 units that were partially damaged – resulting in the displacement of tens of thousands of Palestinians. At least four high-rise buildings were levelled, and 74 public structures were targeted.

According to Sarhan, the losses in the recent war are estimated to 497 million US dollars, with 600 million are resulted from last wars.

“The 14-year Israeli-Egyptian blockade on the strip imposed many obstacles on the reconstruction process. Israel bans building materials through its border crossings, resulting in exacerbating living circumstances for Palestinians in Gaza.” He added.

The reconstruction agreement includes three phases, the first phase includes rebuilding the residential units by the Qatari committee who will rebuild 1000 destroyed units, including 800 units with partial destruction.

According to Sarhan, Egypt will start the first phase within days, with arrangements of the entry of construction equipment into the Gaza Strip are underway through the Rafah border crossing.

Kuwait has formerly pledged to build the towers bombed in the latest offensive, but the agreement was not officially approved, he said.

“We hope more donors to join the reconstruction process within the upcoming three months, including the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), European Union, and to contribute to supporting the industrial and agricultural sectors in Gaza.” Sarhan added.

“Expected Obstacles”

For the expected obstacles, Salama Marouf, the Gaza-government spokesperson told Al Jazeera they reached a place where all threats and obstacles are exceeded by the donors.

“We contacted the donor organisations and agreed on the fund amounts. In general, pledges are reassuring the reconstruction process is near.”

According to Marouf, the Israeli side agreed to remove restrictions imposed on building materials entry into Gaza, as the GRM agreement was frozen upon international efforts.

The Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism (GRM) –is a temporary agreement created by the United Nations and agreed between the Palestinian Authority and Israel in September 2014.

The mechanism was designed to address Israeli security concerns while allowing the entry of construction materials (aggregate, cement and steel bars only) into the Gaza Strip to be used in construction projects.

“There are a lot of materials are banned entry into Gaza, as they are classified within the ‘dual use’ list from Israel. This list has included many necessary materials as water pumps, elevators, iron etc.” Marouf said.

However, the big obstacle that Gaza reconstruction committee fears is Israel’s use to the reconstruction file to ‘blackmail’ Palestinians in Gaza.

“This is the major challenge with the continuous siege imposed in Gaza. Israel may ban entry of building materials through its crossing at anytime.”

“We hope the donor organisations and all partners to guarantee a stable entry of building materials as agreed.

“Economic cycle stopped”

The economic cycle in Gaza reached a deadlock, as it depends entirely on the start of the reconstruction process, Marouf added.

“Unemployment rate in Gaza among young people stands at 50%, and the reconstruction process would contribute to creating job opportunities, pumping money and creating a state of stability in the country.”

Marouf also warned that any pause or delay in the reconstruction plan will destabilize the calm in the region.

“If pressure continues on Gaza, there will be an imminent explosion, the consequences of which will be borne by the Israelis.”

“The situation in the Gaza Strip cannot continue in this way.” He added.

According to Marouf, if all donors abide by their commitments and things go as planned, the reconstruction plan will be achieved by the end of the 2022.

“Winter becomes a heavy guest in Gaza”

Hosni Muhanna, head of media department in Municipality of Gaza said that the municipality strongly welcomes the efforts of reconstruction.

“Infrastructure in Gaza has been hugely affected by Israeli bombing during last offensive.” Muhanna said. “Targeting roads, streets, sewer lines and rainwater drainage led to a huge destruction in the infrastructure.”

“We called on many bodies to speed up the reconstruction of infrastructure with the advent of winter. The current situation will lead to great risks.”

Muhanna said that Gaza municipality has repeatedly warned of any delay of the reconstruction, with calls on donors to work go in parallel tracks; rebuilding towers and infrastructure.

“ًWinter now is a main challenge, as it will lead to a rise in the water level in the lowlands, and there are many destroyed streets in densely populated areas and vital centres of the city.”

“There are fears of landslides and infrastructure collapses if reconstruction is not expedited.” He added.

“Until this moment, we didn’t receive a confirmation when will infrastructure works start, but we are hopeful they start very soon.”

Article source: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/9/25/gaza-reconstruction-process-to-start-by-october

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