‘Root causes of Israel-Palestine conflict must be addressed’

25 May, 2021 12:00 AM printer

GAZA CITY: After the “traumas” of the fourth war between Hamas and Israel, the UN on Sunday called for a long-term reconstruction of the Gaza Strip by addressing the “root causes” of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in order to restore “hope” and avoid further “destruction”, report agencies.

At a time when the public services of the Gaza Strip are picking up the rubble, as traders whose shops have been blown up by the bombardments assess their losses, but also as life tries to take on a semblance of normality, a mission of the UN is probing the Palestinian enclave to quantify the damage from 11 days of war with Israel.

But beyond the thousand apartments destroyed, roads cracked here and there, short-term damage to water treatment infrastructure, this is the whole question of psychological trauma due to the bombings and the question of the future from the Gaza Strip, and from Palestine, in general that arises.

“We must not simply place ourselves in an approach of reconstruction (…) because it comes down to Sisyphus: you build, you destroy, you rebuild, you destroy.

We must have a broader approach focused on human development,” said Philippe Lazzarini, head of the UN Agency for Palestinian refugees, to AFP.

“Which therefore means that it must be accompanied by a real political process,” he adds, stressing the need to avoid an “artificial normalcy” in Gaza, where the two million inhabitants, and in particular young people would be dependent on aid, with no future, “until the next eruption of violence”.

Hence the importance of addressing the “root causes” of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which means, for example, the importance of the lifting by Israel of the blockade imposed since 2007 on this Palestinian territory, but also of giving “a meaning from the future “.

“There may have been less” (houses destroyed than during the 2014 war), “added Lynn Hastings, Human Aid Coordinator for the Palestinian Territories, whose services currently amount to a thousand. The number of businesses or residences “completely destroyed”.

But “one thing I have heard is that the people of Gaza are more traumatized than ever (…) many hopeless people” and that “really needs to be taken into consideration,” she added.

The ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, which entered into force on Friday, mediated by Egypt, did not set any conditions for stopping the fighting nor established a plan for reconstruction. An Egyptian delegation is also in the Gaza Strip for talks with Hamas, in power in the enclave.

In the short term, the stake in the reconstruction of Gaza is not only humanitarian, but also diplomatic, the Israeli army accusing, for example, Hamas of having diverted international aid to military activities and of using the metal of the pipes to make rockets.

US President Joe Biden, whose foreign minister Antony Blinken is expected “in the next few days” in Jerusalem, has already declared his intention to put in place “major” financial aid to “rebuild Gaza” but without giving Hamas – considered “terrorist” by the United States – “the opportunity to rebuild its weapons system”.

UNRWA, an agency dedicated to Palestinians to which the Trump administration had cut funding, welcomed the return of US contributions with the arrival of Joe Biden at the White House and appealed for emergency donations of $ 38 million in the Gaza Strip.

Already precarious infrastructure was also damaged, including power lines. Some 800,000 Gazans had “no sustainable access to drinking water” as water desalination stations were damaged by the conflict.

Dozens of trucks of international aid began pouring in on Friday through the Kerem Shalom crossings, on the border with Israel, and those of Rafah, on the Egyptian border. And on Sunday, officials in the Gaza Strip resumed their work.

This new war killed 248 people in the Palestinian enclave, including 66 children and fighters, according to local authorities. In Israel, rocket fire from Gaza killed 12 people, including a child, a teenage girl and a soldier, police said.