Oman sends caravans to Gaza while Palestinians wait for donor funding to rebuild

Some supplies and funds are flowing into Gaza but lack of donor funding and internal Palestinian conflicts delays Gaza reconstruction.

April 15, 2015 17:52
3 minute read.
Caravans arrive from Oman


Oman donated 100 caravans to Gaza to house some of the 100,000 Palestinians displaced from last summer’s war with Hamas, who are waiting for donor funding to rebuild.

None of the 12,400 housing units destroyed in the war had been rebuilt as of March, and cash for repairs was distributed for only half of the 144,000 damaged homes, according to a report by the UN organization Shelter Cluster.

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Lack of donor funding and internal Palestinian conflicts has helped delay the reconstruction of Gaza, charged a report published this week by the Association of International Development Agencies, It quoted numbers from the World Bank, which showed that, as of April 7, only 26.8 percent of the $3.5 billion earmarked for Gaza at the October 2014 donor conference, $945 million, had been disbursed.

In the interim, a small number of caravans are heading into Gaza.

Four of the prefab units from Oman were delivered on flatbed trucks overnight from Jericho to Gaza via the Kerem Shalom crossing. They were given a police escort to avoid traffic problems.

They follow the 200 caravans donated by Jordan and Turkey that have already reached Gaza after being dismantled for easier transport.

The transfer of the caravans was approved by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), Maj.

Gen. Yoav Mordechai.

Israel counted 118,000 damaged Gaza homes during Operation Protective Edge, a number only slightly lower then that of the UN.

It estimates that 70,050 homeowners have received construction material, of which 60,682 have begun repairs, according to COGAT.

In sum, 128,005 tons of construction supplies have been transferred to the Gaza Strip to date, COGAT said.

It blamed the slow pace of reconstruction on the lack of funds for Palestinians to rebuild, as did the UN. There was also an issue, the UN said, with clearance for projects.

The AIDA report blamed the overall situation on Israeli restrictions at the two border crossings it controls, Kerem Shalom and Erez. The third border crossing, which is mostly closed, links Gaza and Egypt.

It called on Israel to lift all its restrictions on Gaza, including its naval and air blockade.

The split between Hamas and Fatah is also problematic, the report said, adding that some stockholders are reluctant to provide funding until the Palestinian Authority returns to Gaza.

Hamas threw the Palestinian Authority out of Gaza in a bloody coup in 2007. In the spring of 2014 a government of national consensus was formed that represented both parties, but it has yet to take charge in Gaza, which remains under the control of Hamas.

“By refraining from releasing funds due to fear of political instability in Gaza, donors are entrenching divides that heighten instability,” the report said.

“The ministerial splits [in the Palestinian governing bodies] have resulted in delayed transfers of money and supplies, leading to strikes that shut down schools and hospitals and to severe shortages of fuel needed to run Gaza’s power and water pumping stations,” the report said.

The reconstruction of Gaza can be dependent upon Palestinian reconciliation, it said.

On Tuesday, the new UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, Nickolay Mladenov, met with PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, who heads the government of national consensus.

“I am encouraged by my meeting with Palestinian PM Hamdallah and the commitment of his government to assume its rightful responsibilities in Gaza, including on the control of the crossings as well as civil service reform and integration.

The UN stands ready to support any constructive effort in this regard,” said Mladenov.

He replaced Robert Serry, who left the job at the end of March.

“The UN remains committed to supporting the reconstruction of Gaza. With the advent of a number of large scale housing and infrastructure projects, it would be important for Israel and all stakeholders to work together and accelerate the entry of construction materials,” Mladenov added.

“I use the opportunity to also call for the full release of withheld tax revenues, in line with the Paris Protocol,” he concluded.

Meanwhile, 363 truckloads of construction materials are scheduled to be transferred from Israel to Gaza this week, including 124 truckloads of supplies (4,960 tons) within the framework of the joint mechanism for the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip. This includes 54 truckloads of cement, 57 truckloads of aggregates, and 13 truckloads of iron.

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