Shoks Mnisi Mzolo – Cii News | 11 Rabi uth Thani 1436/02 February 2015
Last Ramadaan, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and, to an extent, West Bank, took a pounding from Israel terror. That onslaught, part of Israel’s genocidal project to rid indigenous Palestinians of their land, took an estimated 2,150 lives in a space of two months. No fewer than 500 of those butchered by Israel were children. The aggressor was not held to account. It is the Palestinians, instead, who have been made to bear the brunt. A scarred society, umpteen broken families, hidden psychological wounds and battered infrastructure attest to this.
Instead of pushing for justice, the international community downplayed all other factors and focused on raising funds to reconstruct Gaza Strip – the world’s largest open-air prison. In the wake of Israel’s Zionist terror attacks, those representing the Middle East and world aid bodies met in Cairo, to discuss reconstruction. Pledges, in the region of billions, were made. Warlord Binyamin Netanyahu’s Israel offered neither an explanation for the slaughter nor a penny for rebuilding Gaza.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) now worries that some of the pledges made months ago have come to naught. “The donors came to Cairo and pledged $5.4n. The important thing, to remember here, is that they didn’t make specific pledges,” UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunnes told Sabahul Khair.
“They didn’t come and say we’ll give a million to UNRWA, two million to the Palestinian Authority, five million to the United Nations Development Programme. They just came and bandied the large figures around. Just to recall, the Qatari pledged a billion, the Saudis half a billion, all the way. What we did in response was draw $720m reconstruction plan, which is realistic… because we estimate that well over 100,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed in Gaza,” a dispirited Gunnes explained. “Where is (the $5.4bn)? It needs to be in our account.”
In the meantime, thousands of displaced Palestinians, who are of Semitic streak, continue to live in battered and bomb-ridden buildings. Countless Palestinians live amongst the rubble. Some use canvass to protect themselves from the rain. The Northern Hemisphere’s winter has claimed many. Children, notably, are not only exposed to hunger but now die of hyperthermia. Israel’s power cuts has pushed death toll higher. A further 20,000 subjugated people of Palestine in Gaza, a prison-cum-Bantustan, still have nowhere else to go but to schools run by the United Nations. It was there, seen as a place of refuge, that Israel butchered some of the Palestinians during the two-month massacre. Worsening this is that Israel restricts import of goods into the Bantustan, supposedly for security reasons. With the help of a pliant Egypt, now under coup kingpin Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, Israel maintains a blockade. This makes Gaza the largest prison.
Gunnes regretted the fact that the shortfall, with international donors holding back, will comprise efforts to rebuild the Gaza Strip. In the meantime, UNRWA has suspended its reconstruction programme. The deficit, he added, stood at a $585 million. In other words, only a fifth of the money promised to reconstruct the enclave, destroyed by Israel, has been raised.
“As a result we’ve had to suspend it. People have had to be told – there are some people who’ve had some money and started rebuilding their houses – that ‘I’m sorry, the donor community hasn’t come forward with more funds.’ And there were some who got absolutely nothing, and they’re being told ‘I’m very sorry that you got nothing, the coffers are empty – and so we’ve got nothing (to offer you).’ It really has been very, very disappointing. For the people of Gaza, beyond disappointing, it’s very frustrating,” Gunnes explained to Cii listeners, adding that the homeless Palestinians are seething.
“People are very angry and this anger is boiling over. And the best way to deal with that, is to (lift) the blockade and allow organisations like UNRWA to do their job,” Gunnes asserted, adding that the reconstruction of UN buildings (notably schools and clinics) destroyed by Israel’s state terror attacks is on track. But, he moaned, inhabitants of 110,000 homes damaged by Israel have nowhere to go thanks to the blockade. “We need to get into Gaza and we’re need funding for two aspects: funding, which, at the moment, has dried up. But even if we have that we have to get the goods into Gaza, and into Gaza quickly.”