Laila Barhoum researched the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism (GRM) in her former position as a policy and campaign officer at Oxfam in the occupied Palestinian territory. She told Gisha that clear information is hard to find. “Three entities are involved in bringing in dual-use materials needed for the reconstruction process and have some degree or other of influence over it: the Israeli side, the Palestinian side, and the UN monitoring and control teams. It isn’t easy obtaining information directly from any of them, but the impact of each party’s involvement can be gleaned from the way contractors, civilians and relevant institutions operate.”
Barhoum notes that several factors impact project progression and the process of bringing in materials: Israeli decisions, which are modified based on its understanding of the security and political situation; the entity funding the project (large bodies like the ICRC and World Bank, or other international and Arab bodies); the project’s goals (strategic, reconstructive, or economic), the contractor, and the conduct of the authority overseeing the project in Gaza. The Palestinian Authority’s priorities may also influence projects.
Though trade in dual-use goods is subject to international standards, and different countries have different protocols, the lists dictated by Israel are more stringent than in other countries, and they differ by destination – the West Bank or Gaza Strip. Barhoum explains that “Israel claims that dual-use materials are restricted from entering Gaza for security reasons, but in practice, some of the items enter the Strip via Egypt and are sold at high cost due to the shortage in the local market.” In effect, the control mechanism instituted by Israel is a hindrance to projects, harming economic development in Gaza.
Barhoum emphasizes that one of the problems is Israel’s failure to update the official lists: “There are materials that used to be classified as dual-use and are no longer considered as such by Israel, like some types of wood and cement, but they’re still on the dual-use lists even though Israel clears their entry into Gaza outside of the GRM.”
For more information about Israel’s dual-use policy and the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism, see here.