A Palestinian woman in the Gaza town of Beit Hanoun surveys the devastation.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Nations pledged $5.4 billion to help rebuild Gaza at a donor conference in Cairo on Sunday, a sum that far exceeded the Palestinian Authority’s expectations.
Half the amount pledged “will go to rebuilding Gaza and the assistance will be distributed in response to the daily needs of the Palestinian people,” Norway’s Foreign Minister Borge Brende said in comments translated into Arabic on Egyptian state television.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas had asked for the more modest sum of $4b.
The largest pledge of $1b. was from Qatar, which has close ties to Hamas, the terrorist organization that controls Gaza. Kuwait and United Arab Emirates promised $200 million each and Turkey pledged $200m.
“The most recent Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip, which resulted in vast destruction and uncountable catastrophes is unbearable and cannot pass without consequence,” Abbas told the conference. Some 61,800 homes were destroyed or damaged, with another 18,200 yet to be repaired from past conflicts with Israel, he said, adding that about 2,145 people were killed and 11,200 injured over the summer.
“Infrastructure, public facilities and private-sector establishments were massively damaged, including the only electricity generation plant in the Strip. Not to mention the water, sanitation, electricity, telecommunication, and transportation networks,” he said.
“As a result of this war, innumerable and unspeakable tragedies befell the people of Gaza, including the destruction of entire neighborhoods, and eradication of more than 90 families from the population registry. More than 100,000 remain without shelter, and hundreds of thousands of others are now displaced once again,” Abbas said.
The reconstruction and development of Gaza is important for the Palestinian national economy, the PA president added.
“The the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and east Jerusalem constitute one single geographic whole in which we seek the removal of the occupation,” he said.
US Secretary of State John Kerry pledged $212m. of aid in addition to previous US contributions.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said pledges from member states would reach 450m. euros.
France said it would contribute 40m. euros, while Germany offered 50m. euros. Britain’s ambassador to Egypt, John Casson, said London would donate $32m. to the reconstruction efforts.
“We can’t allow people in Gaza to sink into despair,” German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in a statement.
Israel, the PA and the UN have worked out a mechanism to monitor building material that enters Gaza to ensure that it is not used by Hamas to build infiltration tunnels into Israel.
“This mechanism is what we should be concerned with,” said Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, stressing the importance of making sure that the building material and funds are not diverted to terrorist activity.