World Bank to give Palestinians $33.5m. in aid

Aid initiative announced in Ramallah; sum includes $21.5m. for 6 PA Gaza reconstruction projects.

gaza aid 248 88 ap (photo credit: AP [file])
gaza aid 248 88 ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
The World Bank on Tuesday announced plans to spend an additional $33.5 million on Palestinian infrastructure initiatives, including $21.5 million for six Gaza projects. The new aid was announced in the morning at a signing ceremony in Ramallah attended by Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salaam Fayad and Dina Abu Ghaida, the World Bank acting country director for the West Bank and Gaza (WBG). The Gaza funding, which will in part cover damages caused to these projects by Israel's military incursion into Gaza in January, comes in addition to $77.3 million which had already been pledged to these projects before January. The six Gaza projects include: the Electric Utility Management Project, the Emergency Services Support Project, the Gaza Emergency Water Project, the Emergency Municipal Services Rehabilitation Project, the Palestinian NGO Project and the Tertiary Education Project. According to the World Bank all the projects are administered by the PA, not Hamas, and address the recovery needs of the poorer segments of the Gaza population. "The World Bank is committed to helping the people of Gaza rebuild their homes," said Abu Ghaida. "This grant is the first product of an effort to enable the efficient channeling of recovery and reconstruction aid, despite the extreme limitations on entry into Gaza currently in place." The PA has estimated that at least $1.32 billion is needed to help with the recovery and reconstruction of Gaza, of which it says $502 m. is needed to repair damaged infrastructure. Since Operation Cast Lead, Israel has allowed only a limited amount of building supplies to enter Gaza. Since Hamas violently overthrew Fatah in Gaza in June 2007, Israel has mostly limited the passage of goods into Gaza to humanitarian aid. Abu Ghaida said the World Bank was working to gain permission from Israel to allow material for these projects to enter Gaza. Significant progress has been made on some projects and work continues on others, she said. Some of the funds will go to cover project costs not involving building materials, she added. Outside of Gaza, the World Bank on Tuesday also said it would provide $12 m. for a solid waste management project in the southern West Bank. This would improve solid waste disposal for the communities and businesses in the Bethlehem and Hebron areas.