A recent report suggests that “Israel is earning millions of euros from a de facto policy of preventing non-Israeli reconstruction aid from entering the Gaza Strip.”
Gaza’s infrastructure lays in ruins and will require substantial rebuilding. According to the report, Israel uses its military control over the Gazan economy to enforce Israel-only purchasing on materials.
No formal Israeli ban prevents the import of reconstruction materials that were not made in Israel, but EU sources speaking on condition of anonymity say that in practice, Israeli security demands present them with a fait accompli.
“If you want aid materials to be permitted to enter, they will almost inevitably come from Israeli sources,” an EU official said. “I don’t think you’ll find it written down anywhere in official policy, but when you get to negotiate with the Israelis, this is what happens. It increases construction and transaction costs, and is a political problem that has to be dealt with.” …
The source added that the policy had benefited Israel’s economy to the tune of millions of euros and was, in his view, deliberate.
The European Commission donates some €300 million in development aid to Gaza and the West Bank every year, and around €200 million in humanitarian aid.
The EU official’s allegation received backing from international agencies canvassed by EurActiv and is broadly in line with findings in a UN report due to be published later today (3 September).
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) study will say that half of all donor assistance to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza – who the UN body say constitute a captive market – is spent on servicing a trade deficit to Israel.
Israel’s official spokesman, Mark Regev, denied that there was any such internal policy. When pressed to give an example of non-Israel reconstruction materials being let into Gaza, he was unable to do so.
So by destroying Gaza’s factories and production facilities of, say, cement, Israel is also giving itself a de facto monopoly.
While Israel should be paying reparations to Gaza, it is instead insisting that Gaza help lift the Israeli economy.
Gaza is considered by the UNRWA to be rapidly on track to becoming “an unlivable place,” due to lack of basic resources needed for human survival, such as water. A 2012 report held that Gaza would be uninhabitable by 2020, with “virtually no reliable access to sources of safe drinking water” or reliable electricity, and atrocious levels of education and health care, with food-insecurity becoming the norm for most of the population. That was before the recent destruction of Gaza by Israel; now things are even worse.
“lf Gaza was going to be an unliveable place by 2020 – before the latest fighting – it will now be an unliveable place considerably before then,” Christopher Gunness, a spokesman for UNRWA told EurActiv, from the Gaza Strip.
“With at least 20,000 homes damaged or destroyed, with miles of water infrastructure devastated, with millions of gallons of raw sewage flowing into the sea every day, and the corrosive impacts of blockade, the sustainability of Gaza will be even more short lived,” he said.