A child plays in front of his destroyed home in the Tuffah neighborhood of Gaza City on 9 February.(Anne Paq / ActiveStills)
By Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada, 26 February 2015
Six month after Gaza slaughter, aid groups still afraid to criticize Israel
Marking six months since a ceasefire agreement ended Israel’s mass slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza, thirty international aid agencies have criticized the almost nonexistent progress towards reconstruction.
But the statement falls short of pinning blame for the catastrophe where it lies.
One of the agencies, Oxfam, has said that at current rates it could take “more than a 100 years” to meet today’s needs in Gaza, where more than 100,000 people whose homes were destroyed in Israel’s summer attack are still without shelter.
The lack of progress in reconstruction has been accompanied by an upsurge in armed attacks by Israeli forces on Palestinians.
“The Israeli-imposed blockade continues, the political process, along with the economy, are paralyzed, and living conditions have worsened,” the aid agencies said in their joint statement. “Reconstruction and repairs to the tens of thousands of homes, hospitals and schools damaged or destroyed in the fighting has been woefully slow.”
In its own periodic update on the situation in Gaza for February, Oxfam explains why: in January, even fewer construction materials entered Gaza than during the previous month.
Oxfam, which also signed the joint statement, says just 579 trucks of essential construction materials entered in January, compared with 795 in December.
The Shelter Cluster, a consortium of agencies that addresses the housing needs of those affected by conflict-related violence in Palestine, estimates that 800,000 truckloads are required to meet Gaza’s current housing needs created by destruction during repeated Israeli attacks and population growth during eight years of siege.
Oxfam says that less than 0.25 percent of this figure entered Gaza between November 2014 and January 2015.
The joint statement from the aid groups, which include several United Nations agencies as well as European and international nongovernmental organizations, faults the “international community” for “not providing Gaza with adequate assistance.”
Little of the $5.4 billion in aid pledged in Cairo last October has reached Gaza, the statement says.
The betrayal of these promises led UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, last month to suspend aid to thousands of Gaza residents whose homes were destroyed or damaged.
The agencies say that “Israel, as the occupying power, is the main duty bearer and must comply with its obligations under international law.”
“All parties must respect international law and those responsible for violations must be brought to justice,” the statement adds, as if there is any equivalence between the massive scale of crimes committed by Israel, and those alleged against others.
Palestinians whose houses were destroyed during Israel’s summer assault rally in front of UNRWA headquarters in Gaza City to demand reconstruction, 23 February.
But aside from this minimal acknowledgment of Israel’s responsibility, the statement avoids laying blame where it also belongs: the home governments of many of the international civil society organizations have been complicit in Israel’s military attacks and siege on Gaza.