Gaza City – After Israel’s four-month deadly attack on Gaza in May last year, the first phase of the reconstruction process has begun in the Gaza Strip.
The reconstruction plan was jointly formulated by the Ministry of Housing and Public Works of Gaza, the Qatar Gaza Reconstruction Commission and other international parties.
Naji Salhan, Deputy Minister of Public Works in Gaza, told Al Jazeera that several countries have pledged to contribute to the reconstruction process in Gaza and agreed to start the project by October.
“Qatar Pledged $500 million for the reconstruction of residential units destroyed in the recent Israeli offensive, and Egypt pledged $500 million for infrastructure and destroyed streets. ” He said.
11-day offensive256 Palestinians, including 66 children, were killed, characterized by their intensity, targeting civilian buildings and infrastructure.
Approximately 2,000 houses were destroyed, and another 22,000 were partially damaged-causing the displacement of tens of thousands of Palestinians. At least 4 high-rise buildings were razed to the ground, and 74 public buildings were targeted.
According to Sarhan, the losses in the recent war are estimated at 497 million U.S. dollars, of which 600 million U.S. dollars was caused by the previous war.
“Israel and Egypt’s 14-year blockade of the strip has brought many obstacles to the reconstruction process. Israel prohibited construction materials from passing through its border crossing points, resulting in the deterioration of the living environment of Palestinians in Gaza.” He added.
The reconstruction agreement includes three phases. The first phase includes the reconstruction of residential units by the Qatar Commission, which will rebuild 1,000 destroyed units, of which 800 units were partially destroyed.
According to Salhan, Egypt will begin the first phase within a few days and is arranging construction equipment to enter the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing.
He said that Kuwait had previously promised to build the tower that was blown up in the latest offensive, but the agreement had not been formally approved.
“We hope that more donors will join the reconstruction process in the next three months, including the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the European Union, and contribute to supporting Gaza’s industrial and agricultural sectors.” Sarhan added.
Regarding the expected obstacles, Salama Marouf, spokesperson for the Gaza government, told Al Jazeera that they have reached a place where donors have surpassed all threats and obstacles.
“We contacted the donor organization and agreed on the amount of funding. In general, the commitment is reassuring and the reconstruction process is coming soon.”
Maluf said that Israel agreed to lift restrictions on Israel. Building material entrance Entered Gaza because the GRM agreement was frozen under international efforts.
Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism (GRM) – It is an interim agreement made by the United Nations, and the Palestinian Authority and Israel reached an agreement in September 2014.
The mechanism is designed to solve Security in Israel At the same time, building materials (only aggregate, cement and steel) are allowed to enter the Gaza Strip for use in construction projects.
“There are a lot of materials that are prohibited from entering Gaza because they are classified in Israel’s “dual use” list. This list includes many necessary materials, such as water pumps, elevators, iron, etc.,” Marouf said.
However, the major obstacle that the Gaza Reconstruction Committee is worried about is that Israel uses the reconstruction documents to “blackmail” the Palestinians in Gaza.
“This is the main challenge to the continued siege of Gaza. Israel can ban the entry of construction materials through its border crossing at any time.”
“We hope that the donor organization and all partners can ensure the stable entry of construction materials as agreed.
“The economic cycle stops”
Maluf added that Gaza’s economic cycle is at a deadlock because it depends entirely on the beginning of the reconstruction process.
“The unemployment rate for young people in Gaza is 50%, and the reconstruction process will help create jobs, inject capital and establish a stable state in the country.”
Maluf also warned that any suspension or delay in the reconstruction plan would disrupt the calm in the area.
“If the pressure on Gaza continues, 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.
Maruf said that if all donors keep their promises and everything goes according to plan, the reconstruction plan will be realized by the end of 2022.
“Winter has become a heavy visitor to Gaza”
Hosni Muhana, Director of the Media Department of the Gaza City Government, said that the Gaza City Government strongly welcomes the reconstruction work.
“The infrastructure of Gaza was greatly affected by the Israeli bombing in the last offensive.” Muhanna said. “Targeting roads, streets, sewers and rainwater discharges has resulted in huge damage to infrastructure.”
“With the coming of winter, we call on many institutions to speed up the reconstruction of infrastructure. The current situation will lead to huge risks.”
Muhana said the Gaza City Government has repeatedly warned of any delays in reconstruction and called on donors to work in parallel; rebuild towers and infrastructure.
“The winter is now a major challenge because it causes the water level in the lowlands to rise, and there are many destroyed streets in densely populated areas and important centers of cities.”
“If reconstruction is not accelerated, people are worried about landslides and infrastructure collapse.” He added.
“Until this moment, we have not received confirmation of when the infrastructure projects will begin, but we hope they will begin soon.”