A year on from war, Gaza frustrated at slow reconstruction | Israel-Palestine conflict News

Gaza City – During last year’s Israeli attack on Gaza, Imadeldin Abed’s apartment became a shelter for 13 people, who gathered to try to avoid bombs falling on besieged Palestinian territory.

But on May 17, 2021, Abed said he received a phone call from an Israeli military intelligence officer, telling him that his home was about to be targeted.

The apartment, in the center of Gaza City, was destroyed in a subsequent Israeli air strike.

At the time he received the call, Abed was walking through the rubble of a relative’s house, which had been bombed, killing dozens of civilians.

Abed told Al Jazeera: “I didn’t expect it to happen immediately to my house.

“The Israeli officer told me we should evacuate our building within 15 minutes. The officer emphasized not to take any of our things or belongings. We just ran out like we had. ”

In May 2021, Israel launched a devastating attack The 11-day military offensive on the blockaded Gaza Strip, the fourth major Israeli attack on Palestinian territory in 14 years.

According to the United Nations, the attack killed at least 261 people, including 67 children, and injured more than 2,200.

Tel Aviv said the attack was a logical response to rockets and other munitions fired from the Gaza Strip and blamed it on the territory’s ruler, Hamas.

During the conflict, rockets fired from Gaza killed 13 people in Israel.

Since the attack, Abed and his family have moved into a rented apartment with their married sons.

“We started our lives from scratch. My apartment and the apartment of my married sons, all disappeared in an instant,” explains Abed.

“We have no furniture, clothes or money here. Everything was destroyed.”

The apartment Abed currently lives in is very small and overcrowded, and he says he has not received any help from international organizations or the government.

Abed, a government employee, said: “Over the past year, we have received many promises of reconstruction from UNRWA and the United Nations to no avail. “The furnishing of my apartment cost me about $80,000 and in seconds it evaporated right in front of me.”

For Abed, that loss was difficult to deal with.

“We do not blame the war. We want our house to be rebuilt as soon as possible. More than enough is happening to us in the Gaza Strip,” Abed said.Commemorating the INTERACTIVE Gaza War

‘Gaza is completely forgotten’

Others in Gaza have to deal with not only the physical effects of war, but the physical effects as well.

The apartment of the family of 21-year-old Mohammed el-Sayed was attacked during the Israeli attack, leaving his brother, Ahmed, trapped under the rubble.

“I heard the groans of my brother Ahmed, who was two years older than me,” el-Sayed said. “I tried to remove the wreckage above him to save him, but I couldn’t until the ambulance came and pulled him out.”

Ahmed’s condition is very serious. The bombing left him paralyzed, unable to move his left arm. He also had a torn spinal cord.

“War has created catastrophes in our lives, we are safe in our homes, and suddenly we find ourselves wounded and wounded, and we lose our homes for a moment.” el-Sayed said.

He explained that his father, Rashad, took 5 years to prepare and decorate their apartment.

“We only lived there for three years. Now, my father has lost the house where he put all his savings, as well as my brother, who lost his mobility while still in his youth,” el-Sayed added.

“We are currently living in a rented house, which is not good for my brother’s health. He does not have a private room suitable for his particular health condition, and has no hope of recreating in the future.”

Like many in Gaza, el-Sayed complains that, despite promises and commitments, very few reconstruction projects have been carried out.

“Last year was difficult for everyone, we no longer hope that things will improve,” el-Sayed said. “Gaza has been completely forgotten.”

A building was destroyed in the latest attack on Gaza.
Construction vehicles clear the rubble of the al-Shrouq building, which was bombed last May [Mohammed Salem/Al Jazeera]

Reconstruction delay

The attack last May was marked by its intensity, and destroy houses and infrastructure.

About 1,770 homes have been destroyed or partially destroyed, according to the United Nations. In addition, another 22,000 units were damaged, resulting in the displacement of tens of thousands of Palestinians, according to authorities in Gaza. At least four high-rise buildings were leveled and 74 public buildings were also affected.

Naji Sarhan, Secretary of the Gaza Ministry of Public Works, told Al Jazeera that he was very disappointed by the delay in the reconstruction of Gaza.

“Unfortunately, a year has passed since the attack in May, although reconstruction is still in the early stages,” Sarhan said.

According to him, only 200 houses have been rebuilt, out of 1,700 completely destroyed.

The situation is better when it comes to partially demolished housing units, Sarhan says 70% have been rebuilt, while the rest need more funding.

According to Sarhan, damage in the recent attack was estimated at $497 million, with $160 million needed to rebuild damaged or destroyed homes.

“The 14-year blockade between Israel and Egypt on the Strip has posed many obstacles to the reconstruction process,” said Sarhan. “Israel bans construction materials from passing through its border crossings, leading to the worsening of the living conditions of Palestinians in Gaza.”

Sarhan added that about 1,300 housing units were severely damaged and 70,000 housing units were damaged some of which construction had not been funded since the 2014 war.

However, despite that need, only Egypt and Qatar have pledge support reconstruction, promising $500 million each.

Israel agreed remove restrictions about importing construction materials into Gaza last August, but officials in Gaza say Israel continues to pressure donors not to fund reconstruction projects.

However, Sarhan also outlined a number of responsibilities to the UN, and in particular to the Palestinian refugee agency, UNRWA.

On April 25, dozens of Palestinians in Gaza protested in front of UNRWA headquarters, accusing the agency of failing to fulfill its mandate to rebuild Palestinian homes destroyed in the 2021 wars and 2014, as well as asking UNRWA Commissioner General Philip Lazzarini to withdraw his license. recent request that UNRWA projects be transferred to other international networks and organizations.

In return, UNRWA responded in a statement that it had completed rebuilding “partially damaged houses”, and explained that it would begin rebuilding completely damaged houses. within a week”.

UNRWA’s communications adviser, Adnan Abu Hasna, said that the agency had “rebuilt about 7,000 partially damaged homes and another 450 severely damaged homes”.

For Sarhan, that was not enough.

“We call on UNRWA and all parties to abide by their commitments to rebuild the Gaza Strip,” he said. “Life has come to a complete halt on the Strip and people are in dire need of assistance, and to rebuild their homes.”

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