The 139 square mile territory of the Gaza strip is what UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon calls “destruction beyond description”. 2170 dead on both sides during a 50 day bombardment in a brutal crackdown on ‘Hamas operatives’: 97% Palestinian, principally civilian, 500 children. 4 billion tons of lingering rubble: mosques, ambulances, beaches, schools of towering concrete flattened by ‘targeted’ drone attacks. One in five have access to water only once a week, the electricity only functioning for 4-6 hours every day, the sewage system demolished. Hospitals still standing are beyond full capacity, running on faulty equipment with an acute shortage of drugs for an acute overflow of casualties.
This is Gaza, two months after the assault. Only last Tuesday did building materials (scrupulously raided in search of arms) pass through the crossing with Israel. It wasn’t until a week ago that the international community pledged aid towards reparations.
Whilst the pledges in total amounted to £3.4 billion, if the last ten years have taught the Palestinians anything, it is that it is one achievement to raise the money, and yet another to collect it; the billions pledged in aid after the Operation 2008-9 were never received. Palestine is controversial. And this time the destruction is worse – much worse.
Firstly, the £3.4 billion is not just for Gaza; many countries included contributions already allotted for Palestine. Additionally, there are border blockades: Israel’s stranglehold still restricts goods entering Gaza, meaning the process of actually getting aid-materials in will be tortuously slow. At the Egyptian entry point, Egyptian authorities have refused to allow aid through, claiming the access point only sustains people (denied refugee status in Egypt), not urgent medical supplies.
Food is also scarce, the secret import tunnels into Gaza demolished and the trickle of food through the border and the 6-mile fishing area not enough to support the population; the 65,000 homeless have nothing to pay with. Yet even with one-off aid, without a lift in the crippled economy any sort of recovery will be slow. And who’s to say the area won’t be flattened again in a few year’s time? Aid to Israel has not been reduced.
So, what else? Yes, 130 different countries including Britain have voted for Palestine’s recognition as a state. But if the UN continues to preserve Israel as immune to International Law, possession of statehood will be irrelevant; the people of Gaza will not be protected. Meanwhile, 65,000 Gazans are facing a winter without a roof.