• Israelis will make $7 billion off rebuilding projects.
By Richard Walker —
Just when you think you’ve heard it all about Israel’s murderous bombardment of Gaza, you discover there is much more to the tragedy. Yes, there was a massive loss of innocent life and the utter destruction of tens of thousands of homes, schools and public buildings, but it now transpires Israel will profit handsomely from the $7 billion or more it will take to rebuild Gaza over the next 20 years. The scandalous fact is Israel will continue to control the flow of all building materials into Gaza and will insist they must be bought from Israeli companies.
An unnamed European Union (EU) official quoted in news outlets said it was outrageous a country that had just demolished 25,000 homes was “demanding its construction industry rebuild them at the expense of the international community.” That rebuilding project will have to include at least 5,000 homes not repaired from the previous Israeli bombardments and replacing Gaza’s only power station, leveled by Israeli missiles.
Also to be considered is the damage to agriculture that has left a wasteland of what were once farms. The fishing industry was destroyed and needs to be rebuilt as well as thousands of public buildings and amenities.
Even before this latest Israeli aggression, half the population of Gaza was surviving on United Nations (UN) food rations and Israel had frozen all funds to the Hamas government.
Another scandal uncovered in documents leaked to the UK’s Guardian newspaper shows the UN is preparing to cede authority to Israel for the rebuilding of Gaza, thereby reinforcing its right to control the transfer of all materials into Palestinian territory and the right to decide what is rebuilt and where.
“Critics argue that plans for monitoring the import, storage and sales of building materials—including installing video cameras, setting up a team of international inspectors and the creation of a database of suppliers and consumers—are more appropriate for a suspect nuclear program than a postwar reconstruction effort,” reported The Guardian. “The agreement would also cede to Israel the right to approve, and potentially veto, major rebuilding projects, including their location.”
Unfortunately, the UN does not clearly speak with one voice on the issue, probably due to pressure from Washington to back what Israel wants. In contrast, the UN chief human rights figure in the region, Pierre Krähenbühl, warned Israel could no longer impose a “collective punishment” on Gaza with a blockade “illegal under international law.”
The EU is the one body entirely familiar with how Israelis use the blockade to benefit enormously from aid going to Gaza. In past years, materials shipped from Europe were held up for months in Israeli ports and airports. It was Israel’s way of making the point that if all construction materials were provided by Israeli companies they would get to Gaza on time. It had the effect of EU aid being spent with Israeli outlets. It was and remains a classic scam benefiting the Israeli economy. In this latest rebuilding effort, billions of dollars will flow through Israeli companies in what will be a long, drawn-out and very costly reconstruction process.
In the wake of the Gaza tragedy, a further embarrassment for Israel was the Israeli historian Shlomo Sand naming Israel as “one of the most racist societies in the Western world.” Sand said he wanted to cease considering himself a Jew. Writing for The Guardian, he blasted Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.
“That oppressed population, which has lived under the occupation for close to 50 years, deprived of political and civil rights, on land that the ‘state of the Jews’ considers its own, remains abandoned and ignored by international politics,” he wrote.
He compared Israel’s 47-year occupation of Palestinian land to a mythological serpent that had “swallowed too big a victim but prefers to choke rather than abandon it.”
Richard Walker is the pen name of a former N.Y. news producer.
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