Israel reviewing UNRWA list of sites for Gaza schools

Previous submission rejected on grounds that one of the locations was near a Hamas facility.

December 15, 2010 04:33
2 minute read.
 Maj.-Gen. Eitan Dangot.

Eitan Dangot 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

The office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) recently received a new list of sites where the United Nations would like to build schools in the Gaza Strip, after security officials rejected a previous submission, claiming that one of the planned locations was next to a Hamas facility.

Maj.-Gen. Eitan Dangot, who heads the COGAT office, said on Tuesday that the list had been submitted by the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) several days ago and was currently being processed by security officials.

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“We support UNRWA for new schools,” Dangot said at a press briefing in Jerusalem. “We recently received a list and are looking to move forward to be able to support this.”

Dangot confirmed a report that appeared in The Jerusalem Post in October that a site submitted for approval in southern Gaza City’s Tel el-Hawa neighborhood had been rejected because it was next to a Hamas military installation.

“There were one or two occasions that we asked them to move the location a few hundred meters, since they were near Hamas installations,” he said.

Since Israel eased the blockade on the Gaza Strip in July following the Turkish flotilla fiasco, COGAT has approved 78 international projects, including 16 sewage and waterrelated projects and 22 education facilities, Dangot said on Tuesday. He added that by the beginning of 2011, the number would cross the 100-mark.

Dangot rejected claims that ties between COGAT and UNRWA were tense.

“There is no tension between Israel and UNRWA, and we want to move forward to support the work on the schools,” he said.

John Ging, director of UNRWA operations in the Gaza Strip, confirmed on Tuesday that his office had submitted a new list of schools for approval and that UNRWA’s ultimate goal was to build 100 new schools in Gaza over the next three years.

Ging said, however, that the UN agency was still hoping to receive approval from COGAT to build the school at the Tel el- Hawa location.

“We have provided evidence in photographs which show there is not a Hamas facility there,” he said. “We will still try to approve that location since there is no alternative for the 5,000 refugee children there.”

Turning to the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, Dangot said that by mid-2011, Israel hoped to reach the point where 400 trucks were crossing daily into Gaza with supplies for the Palestinian civilian population.

Last week, the security cabinet decided to loosen the blockade of the Gaza Strip even further, allowing more exports out of the region.

Dangot said it was possible that in the future, some of the exports from Gaza would reach Israeli markets, but that in the initial phase, the exports would be shipped to Europe.

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