Saturday, October 11, 2014

Having to Rebuild Gaza, Again

OCT. 10, 2014

The recent 50-day war in Gaza killed over 2,000 Palestinians and 73 Israelis, and it destroyed or damaged more than 60,000 homes, 5,000 businesses, and essential public necessities like roads and power plants. Thousands of Gazans are now living in untenable conditions and desperately need help.

Still, as Secretary of State John Kerry and other officials convene in Cairo on Sunday for an international conference of prospective donors to discuss the reconstruction challenge, one question arises over and over: What is the point of raising and spending many millions of dollars (the Palestinians say $4 billion is required) to rebuild the Gaza Strip just so it can be destroyed in the next war? It’s a harsh question. Given the region’s tragic history, it is also inevitable.

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars in the last six years. Ending this depressing cycle will require a durable solution, not just short-term emergency aid and a temporary cease-fire until bombs start falling again. That, in turn, requires imaginative diplomacy to make sure any rebuilding program is linked to a permanent cease-fire and is designed in a way that strengthens the Palestinian Authority and its president, Mahmoud Abbas, a moderate committed to peace with Israel, while weakening Hamas, Israel’s implacable enemy.

Even during times of relative peace, Gazans have endured soul-crushing deprivation, including high unemployment and shortages of water and electricity. Since 2007, when Hamas seized control of Gaza from the Palestinian Authority, Israel and Egypt have enforced a draconian blockade that restricts the flow of people and goods in and out of Gaza. While the goal is to squeeze Hamas, innocent people have paid a much bigger price.

(More here.)


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