We need to talk about more than just rehabilitation, about economic development as well

August 17, 2014. Over the past week, Iman Jabbour, Gisha research director and Sari Bashi, the organization’s co-founder, were interviewed on Channel 2 News and on the channel’s weekend news magazine. “The unemployment rate in the Gaza Strip had reached 45% even before the war. We haven’t seen such rates since 2009”, said Jabbour during the interview (Hebrew).

“We are talking about massive destruction on a huge scale”, said Jabbour in an interview on August 14. “The entire eastern part of the Gaza Strip and the northern part of Beit Hanoun have been completely destroyed. A large part of these areas was completely destroyed. Sixteen-thousand homes were destroyed or sustained very serious damage, so that the 100,000 people who had lived in them can’t return and are waiting for reconstruction to occur so that they can leave the shelters. We’re also talking about the water infrastructure, some of it has been completely destroyed and some can be fixed in a matter of months”.

Jabbour also said that “Electricity infrastructure has been destroyed. The power station was shelled and is out of commission. Also, the price of food has gone up in Gaza. There are also schools and hospitals that have been damaged in the bombings and shellings. The destruction is massive, much worse than it was in Operation Cast Lead”.

“I don’t think the problem is shortage [of food], because goods are coming in now. The problem is people don’t have money. They’ve lost their livelihoods. The unemployment rate in the Gaza Strip had reached 45% even before the war. We haven’t seen such rates since 2009. So, even if there is food and there are stores that are still operating – there’s no purchasing power in Gaza and no sources of income. The problem is less what’s coming in. The problem is more the fact that there’s no way to take Gaza forward now – that is, to talk about more than just rehabilitation, but about economic development as well”.

On August 15, Sari Bashi was interviewed (Hebrew) on Channel 2’s weekend news magazine: “Seventy percent of the population [in the Gaza Strip] relies on humanitarian aid and there’s no possibility of developing businesses or a functioning society […]. True, Gaza residents can get food, but they are denied the ability to work and earn the money they need to buy the food”.