THERE has been a very bitter winter in Palestine especially in the war ravaged Gaza Strip where tens of thousands of Gazans’ homes were destroyed during the recent Israeli 50 day blitzkreig.
Yesterday, the brave people of Gaza were told by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees that the UN cannot afford to repair Gaza homes, blasted in the 50 day Israeli war, because donors have failed to honour their pledges. They have gone on strike!
‘The agency has exhausted all funding to support repairs and rental subsidies,’ the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) said in a statement, washing their hands of the matter.
The UN added that $5.4 billion was pledged at the Cairo aid conference last October and virtually none of it has reached Gaza. ‘This is distressing and unacceptable’ says the UN. In fact, the donors, including the super rich Islamic states of the Gulf, are demonstrating in practice their support for Israel by helping to oppress and pressure Gaza!
The UN says diplomatically: ‘It is unclear why this funding has not been forthcoming,’ especially since the homes of more than 96,000 Palestine refugees were destroyed or damaged during the conflict.
They made up the vast majority of the more than 100,000 homes that were hit during the 50-day attack.
UNRWA stated that ‘some funds remain available to begin the reconstruction of totally destroyed homes,’ but that the cutting of subsidies to displaced residents currently renting alternative accommodation could force large numbers back to UN schools and centres which are already sheltering 12,000 people.
UNRWA added: ‘We are talking about thousands of families who continue to suffer through this cold winter with inadequate shelter. People are literally sleeping amongst the rubble. Children have died of hypothermia.’
Two babies died in Gaza earlier this month as dozens of homes were flooded in brutal storms that brought freezing rain and gale-force winds while Gaza’s sole power station, which was damaged during the war, is struggling with a severe lack of fuel and is only able to supply the enclave with six hours of power per day.
In fact reconstruction has barely begun, with experts saying it will take years at the present rate, even if Israel significantly eases its eight-year blockade, under which it controls two of the three crossings into Hamas-controlled Gaza, and maintains the tightest curbs on the entry of much needed building materials.
The world that showed massive anger at the assault on Gaza by Israel last year cannot now sit back and watch Gaza’s population live and sleep out in the open.
The trade unions throughout the world, especially in the UK and the USA, must see to it that there is a flood of aid for Gaza and demand of their governments that they send emergency aid and cash to see that every house is rebuilt. As well they must compel the Israeli occupying power to allow whatever amount of building materials are required through the crossings into Gaza that it controls with its armed forces.
In fact the UK trade unions and the MPs that voted in the House of Commons that the British government should recognise the state of Palestine, have a duty to demand and insist that the UK sends massive cash aid to Gaza.
In fact, this government is treating the House of Commons with contempt.
It ignored the House of Commons resolution on Palestine, and then went to the US Security Council and abstained on the motion that would have named the date for the ending of the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
The UK government acted as a ‘running dog’ for the USA so that the latter did not have to use its veto. Now the MPs who voted to recognise Palestine must demand that the UK coalition sends massive cash aid to Palestine so that every Gazan family has a home to live in.
The reality is that despite all of the attempts to drive the Palestinian massed back, they are still advancing forward. 2015 must be the year when the Palestinian masses and the workers of the world establish the state of Palestine.