Will Gaza Revive from the Ruins amid Israeli Siege?
Barriers like the Israeli siege, absence of airways, and naval blockade halt the movement of aid and further exacerbate the internal crisis, impede the reconstruction, and blocks Gaza from the outer world.
The conflict with the external forces is one thing. But dealing with prevailing internal conflict within the contained borders is just another biggest challenge for Palestine. Resembling the other Middle-Eastern countries like Syria and Yemen, Palestine is also suffering through the worst humanitarian crisis.
Military atrocities, airstrikes, bombardments have turned the Gaza strip into rubble due to which Palestinians have lost permanent housing facilities and somehow are surviving in shelters and other forms of temporary accommodation. Apart from living in coercive surroundings, Palestinians lack basic amenities like electricity, clean water, sewage treatment, and waste management, etc.
The 11-day bombardment of Gaza has displaced over 77,000 Palestinians who were seeking protection in 58 UNRWA schools, including in 23 designated emergency shelters, according to a report by United Nations. Moreover, water, sanitation, hygiene, and electricity services have been severely affected.
According to a Palestinian official, at least 2,000 housing units have been demolished by Israel’s airstrikes on the Gaza Strip. Speaking to Associated Press, Naji Sarhan, Deputy of Gaza’s works and housing ministry, stated that more than 15,000 other units were partly destroyed in the 11-day war.
To overcome such devastation, Gaza stands in need of massive financial aid amid the Israeli siege. In solidarity with Gaza’s devastation, many international and human rights organizations have come forward to help rebuild Gaza.
The United Nations on May 21 announced the release of $22.5 million for meeting humanitarian needs in Gaza. Egypt also has been helping with food and medical aid and pledged $500 million for reconstruction purposes. Moreover, the authorities opened the Rafah Border Crossing for the mobility of bulldozers, trucks, and cranes into Gaza.
Despite many countries promising aid over the years but part of Gaza still remain in ruins. There are many barriers like the Israeli siege, absence of airways, and naval blockade of Gaza halting the movement of aid. These barriers further exacerbate the internal crisis, impede the reconstruction, and blocks Gaza from the outer world.
Abiding restrictions by Israel and Egypt on the mobility of people and goods to and from the Gaza Strip have undermined the living conditions of Palestinians. The Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), a unit of the Israeli Ministry of Defense, coordinates access of aid from the International community and humanitarian needs to and from the Gaza Strip. This takes place from two entry points: Kerem Shalom in the south for commercial goods and Erez in the north for people. While the Rafah border crossing is in the hands of Egyptian authorities.
The sea blockade further intercepts the aid from the International organizations. Israeli only permits the Gaza fishing space to 3 nautical miles into the Mediterranean Sea. Moreover, there is no scope of providing aid through airways as in the year 2000, Israel shut down the sole Yasser Arafat International Airport in Gaza.
Amidst Gaza’s helplessness followed by land, sea, and air blockade, an agreement known as Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism (GRM) was formulated between the Palestinian Authority, the Israeli government, and the United Nations. It was established post-2014 war with the aim of availing construction materials into the Gaza Strip for rehabilitation and development of public projects
However, GRM has failed to meet its motive and further increased the complexity in rebuilding Gaza. It is believed that GRM has legitimized Israel’s blockade of Gaza. A report by POMEPS stated that “The GRM’s operational approach is driven by Israel’s security concerns rather than by genuine concern for the rebuilding of Palestinian lives.”
Tracing back the historical assault, 2014 Israeli violence on Gaza, led to massive destruction of lives and infrastructure. According to a report by United Nations, there were 1,717 casualties and 16,700 houses were severely damaged. Moreover, 485000 people were displaced and stayed in emergency shelters. The shelling of Gaza’s sole power plant resulted in the exacerbation of the electricity crisis. This impacted private households, companies, and public services, including water, sanitation, and health facilities.
Likewise, 2021 Israeli violence on Gaza has incurred pretty much the same amount of loss of both living and non-living in Gaza. Followed by COVID challenges, improper health facilities, unemployment, lack of education, and reduced GDP.
Palestinians are regularly battling for survival in the world’s largest open-air prison. Bounded by land, sea, and air, these open prisons are often treated with airstrikes and bombardments. In such unfavorable conditions revival of Gaza from ruins seems difficult.