Sunday, August 10, 2014

10-Aug-14: Only a fraction of the Gaza reconstruction cash arrived last time, says Hamas insider

Secretary of State Clinton shakes hands with EU foreign 
policy chief Javier Solana during donors' conference on 
reconstruction of  Gaza Strip, Sharm El-Sheikh, 
Egypt, March 2, 2009. 70+ countries and 15 organizations 
attended conference [Image Source]
Hugh Naylor writing in The National ("Abu Dhabi Media's first English-language publication") under the title "International donors wary of funding Gaza reconstruction" offers up some interesting - though somewhat incomplete - observations about what may happen next in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, assuming the current warfare tapers off:
Palestinian officials said last week the Israeli offensive that began on July 8 caused US$6 billion worth of damage. Nearly 1,900 Palestinians, mostly civilian, have been killed so far. The onslaught destroyed important infrastructure, homes, and even entire neighbourhoods, including Shujaieh, Beit Hanoun and Khuzaa... The UN deputy humanitarian chief, Kyung-wha Kang, last week listed the “utter devastation” from the latest Gaza war: 144 schools and other facilities damaged, a public health system “on the verge of collapse” with one-third of hospitals, 14 primary health care clinics and 29 ambulances damaged, more than one million of the territory’s 1.8 million people without access to water and limited electricity, and the prevalence of unexploded ammunition... 
Very sad. And it's even sadder, in our view, that the reporter politely looks the other way when Hamas' central role in this catastrophe is the obvious next step in the discussion. Never mind. 

He points out that money has arrived in the past in serious doses. For instance
The EU spends $600 million on the Palestinian territories each year, apart from individual donations by its 28 members states... 
With all that cash washing up year after year in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority's bank account, he's not suggesting a lack of funds is going to hamper reconstruction, is he? To remind us all, here's how Aljazeera reported those reconstruction fund promises:
Donors pledge $5bn to rebuild Gaza, Aljazeera March 3, 2009: "The European Commission said it will donate $554m for the reconstruction of Gaza and changes to the PA... Saudi Arabia pledged $1bn and Qatar $250m, while $174m will come from the United Arab Emirates, although they have not yet specified who they will pay the money to, or how it will be spent. Japan, Italy and Turkey were among other nations who made multi-million-dollar pledges to the PA... Hillary Clinton, on her first visit to the Middle East since becoming the US secretary of state, pledged $900m."
That was 2009. Evidently there's good reason to expect problems this time:
International donors are wary of funding another rebuilding effort in Gaza, with the European Union divided over increasing pressure on Israel for a lasting solution to the Palestinian issue. “There’s huge concern that whatever we help rebuild will be destroyed again,” said a European diplomat in charge of his country’s development aid in Israel and the Palestinian territories. “We need fundamental changes to the situation on the ground so that we don’t repeat what keeps on getting repeated.” 
So other than the predictable slap at Israel, what exactly is it that keeps getting repeated? Maybe this:
An international donor meeting for Gaza is to be held in Norway next month. Yet, there is concern about a repeat of the donor conference after the 2008-2009 war, where only a fraction of the nearly $5 billion pledged for rebuilding came through. “We hope to receive help, but promises aren’t always kept here,” said Naji Sarhan, Gaza’s deputy minister of public works. “It’s hard to convince people to come here when they know Israel acts as our agent of destruction.”
Maybe. But perhaps he might have addressed the matter of how hard it is to convince people to keep underwriting the reconstruction of your homes when they see how millions upon millions of aid dollars have actually been diverted into the pockets of the Hamas fat-cat insiders (see our post on Gaza's millionaires and billionaires in "27-Jul-14: Gaza's death toll keeps rising but for Hamas insiders it's all worth it"] and into the construction of dozens of concrete-lined tunnels snaking out of the Gaza Strip and into adjacent Israeli communities, built with foreign-aid funds and imported cement.

That thought seems to have escaped the analytical Mr Naylor at The National. Perhaps it's a cultural thing - the notion that Gaza's oppressed victims and their iron-fisted rulers should never actually be called to account for their own jihadist proclivities, malevolence and manipulation. That self-delusion seems to have worked till now. It may keep working so long as those foreign aid Euros and Dollars keep arriving.

But what if that Gazan politician is right and promises aren't always kept. Or stop being made?

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