One Year After Israel's Operation in Gaza, Reconstruction Still Drags On, Says Official

© AFP 2022 / MOHAMMED ABEDA Palestinian man takes a photograph with his mobile phone of a building hit and destroyed during an Israeli Air strike in Gaza City, on May 15, 2021.
A Palestinian man takes a photograph with his mobile phone of a building hit and destroyed during an Israeli Air strike in Gaza City, on May 15, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 12.05.2022
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According to estimates, the 12 days of hostilities that took place last May caused $380 million of damage. Economic losses have reached $190 million and the cost of recovery has exceeded $480 million.
It's been a year since Israel launched its Guardian of the Walls operation in the Gaza Strip, responding to a barrage of rockets that were launched by the militants of Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
During the 12 days of fighting, Israel struck more than 1,500 military targets belonging to Hamas, including a sophisticated system of tunnels, their launch sites, command centres and arms depots. It also dealt a severe blow to the enclave's infrastructure, devastating roads, mosques, schools, police stations, hospitals and residential buildings.

Slow Progress

Hamas has been trying to repair what was damaged. It received $500 million from Qatar, and a similar amount from Egypt and Dr Ghazi Hamad, a member of the Political Bureau of Hamas and a former foreign minister of the Hamas government, says reconstruction has been going "well" but rather "slowly".
Hamad says there are many reasons it has taking a long time: first is Israel's prohibition against construction materials entering the Strip. Officials in Jerusalem have stuck to this policy for fear of equipment being used for military purposes. Last September, the Jewish state eased some of its restrictions but in an area that requires tons of cement, it was barely enough.
Another factor that hindered progress was the lack of necessary funds. According to some estimates, the recent conflict in Gaza led to physical damage costing $380 million. Economic losses have reached $190 million, and recovery needs have exceeded $480 million.
Hamad says the Hamas authorities are struggling to collect the funds necessary for rebuilding Gaza, simply because they are lacking a sufficient number of donors and funders from the international community.

"Qatar is one of the biggest supporters of reconstruction. There is also UNRWA (the United Nations' agency for Palestinian refugees), which receives support from a number of western countries. There is Egypt, which is building a number of residential buildings and there are some international institutions that are building houses that have been completely destroyed."

"But there are still many countries that are reluctant to provide financial support [since] they require political stability but this cannot be guaranteed [because of] the occupation and its aggressive measures against the Palestinian people."

Helping the Needy

Despite these challenges, Hamad says Hamas' authorities are trying to cater to the needs of the people, most of whom live in poverty.
In the one year since the end of the hostilities, the Islamic group that has been controlling the Gaza Strip since 2007, has been repairing the homes of affected families. They have been lending apartments and providing such essentials as mattresses, blankets, kitchen utensils and electrical appliances.
However, these efforts aren't enough: today there are some 1,800 families, or roughly 10,000 people, who cannot return to their homes, simply because they have been destroyed. And those are putting pressure on Hamas to accelerate its reconstruction efforts.

"There is some resentment [among the people] because of the slow reconstruction process. Last, week there was a large demonstration in front of the UNRWA headquarters and people demanded that [authorities] speed up, as they have been homeless now for a year."

"We are working on speeding things up ... but if occupation continues, this cycle of violence will continue," Hamad added.
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