According to the United Nations, 100,000 homes have been destroyed or damaged, leaving 600,000 Palestinians – nearly one in three of Gaza’s population – homeless or in urgent need of humanitarian help. Roads, schools and the electricity plant to power water and sewerage systems are in ruins. The cold and wet of winter are approaching.
It is astonishing that the reconstruction of Gaza, bombed into the Stone Age, has tentatively only just begun two months after the end of the fighting. Aid agency Oxfam warns that at the current rate of progress it may take 50 years to rebuild Gaza.
Where else in the world apart from the Palestinian territories would the international community stand by idly as so many people suffer – and not from a random act of God but willed by fellow humans?
As far as the agreement reached in Cairo this month for Gaza’s reconstruction, donors pledged $5.4 billion – though, based on past experience — much of it won’t materialize. In addition, half will be immediately redirected to the distant West Bank to pay off the Palestinian Authority’s mounting debts.
One Israeli analyst has compared the proposed solution to transforming a third-world prison into a modern US super-max incarceration facility. The more civilized exterior will simply obscure its real purpose: not to make life better for the Palestinian inmates, but to offer greater security to the Israeli guards.
For some donors exasperated by years of sinking money into a bottomless hole, upgrading Gaza to a super-max prison looks like a better return on their investment.
[Excerpts of an article by Jonathan Cook, a Nazareth- based journalist]