Who will rebuild Gaza?

Tue., December 21, 2010 – Six months after the Security Cabinet’s decision to “ease” the closure on the Gaza Strip, Gisha today released a new position paper entitled "Reconstructing the Closure" expressing concern over restrictions on the entry of construction materials into the Strip .The position paper draws attention to the fact that since the decision, Israel has continued to restrict the entry of construction materials as well as prevent the export of civilian goods to markets outside of Gaza. Moreover, despite assurances that entry of construction materials would be allowed for international organizations seeking to rebuild Gaza, the granting of permits for these purposes has been slow and impeded by burdensome bureaucratic conditions. The result has been a thwarting of international projects, while projects administered by the government in Gaza are built using construction materials entering through tunnels between the Gaza-Egypt border.

According to our information, between July 6 and December 6, 2010, 744 trucks of cement, gravel and steel, or approximately 149 trucks per month, have been allowed to enter Gaza for construction for international projects. Comparatively, prior to June 2007, residents of Gaza purchased in excess of 5000 trucks of cement, gravel and steel each month. On the other hand, up to 900 tons of concrete (an amount equivalent to 36 truck loads), or 300 tons of steel, or 250 tons of gravel enter Gaza on any given day through the 30-40 tunnels intended for the import of construction materials.

The restrictions on the import of construction materials impair the activity of international organizations and prevent them from carrying out plans to build schools, hospitals and other civilian infrastructure. In the meantime, with the help of construction materials arriving through the tunnels, the government is able to successfully carry out construction projects. This state of affairs raises questions about Israel’s motivations in restricting the entrance of construction materials through the crossing points it continues to control.