Need to expedite Gaza reconstruction: paper

ABU DHABI, 24th February, 2015 (WAM) — The United Nations Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA, has declared that there is an urgent need for about US$100 million within this quarter of the year to be able to repair damaged homes in Gaza Strip and this is a matter that deserves the serious attention of the international community.

“It should be noted that the consequences of last summer’s assault by Israel against innocent Palestinians are still ongoing and the number of homes that were damaged is estimated to reach about 100,000 by this March,” said The Gulf Today in its editorial on Tuesday.

Many people still lack access to the municipal water network and blackouts of up to 18 hours per day are common. What is shocking is that although US$5.4 billion was pledged at the Cairo conference last October, the funds are too slow to arrive.

As top UN officials rightly point out, 2014 remained a tragic year for Palestine. Thousands are still unable to return to their homes in Gaza, and in the West Bank, thousands more live in chronic insecurity, at risk of losing their homes and livelihoods as a result of demolitions.

The distressing condition of the victims could be surmised by the fact that UNRWA has registered 96,000 homes as refugee houses or structures exposed to breaking down.

The paper added, “Sadly, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees was forced to halt Gaza reconstruction last month for lack of funds, since it could not afford repairing homes because donors failed to pay.” Adding insult to injury was the Israeli decision to issue on January 30th tenders for the construction of some 450 residential units in West Bank settlements.

A total of $200 million has been withheld by the Israeli government, and the Palestinian Authority faces acute fiscal challenges. Economic activity contracted in 2014 for the first time since 2006.

Top UN officials have rightly cautioned that paralysing the Palestinian Authority from conducting essential government business – including functions related to health services and law and order – is in no one’s interest. Israel’s action is a violation of its obligations under the Paris Protocol of the Oslo Accords.

Israel should cease demolitions and facilitate international assistance to vulnerable communities.

“More than a million Palestinians continue to face grim conditions on the ground and an uncertain future. Further escalation remains possible in the conflict and this could be highly damaging to the two-State solution. The world community cannot afford to remain a mute spectator anymore,” concluded the Sharjah-based English language daily.