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Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Two years on, post-war Gaza reconstruction, justice lacking: NGOs

AFP , Thursday 7 Jul 2016
Gaza
A file photo shows the damage caused by the Israeli occupation war against the Palestinians in Gaza (Photo: Reuters)
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Two years after Gaza's last devastating assault by Israel, rights groups vented frustration Thursday over the slow pace of reconstruction in the Palestinian territory and lack of war crimes prosecutions.

A coalition of leading NGOs urged Israel to lift its blockade of the impoverished Gaza Strip, while Amnesty International said it was "indefensible" that no criminal cases had been brought for alleged war crimes.

The July-August 2014 Israeli war against Gaza killed more than 2,200 Palestinians and 73 people on the Israeli side, and destroyed or damaged thousands of homes in Gaza.

Reconstruction has been painfully slow, with the United Nations taking over a year to rebuild its first destroyed home.

Israel has maintained a blockade on the enclave, limiting the entry of many goods essential for construction that officials allegedly fear could fall into the hands of the Hamas rulers of Gaza and be used for another military build-up.

The Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA) -- an umbrella body for major international NGOs working in Israel and the Palestinian territories -- said in a report ahead of Friday's anniversary of the outbreak of the assault that Israel's decade-long blockade was "severely impeding reconstruction and recovery" in Gaza.

"Unless it is lifted, Palestinians living in Gaza will be unable to move on with their lives and live in freedom, dignity and safety," said Chris Eijkemans, country director at British charity Oxfam, a member of AIDA.

The AIDA statement called on "world leaders to live up to their commitments and press for an immediate end to the blockade."

In a separate report, Amnesty International said only three Israeli soldiers have been charged over the war, all for minor offences.

"The fact that no one has been held to account for war crimes that were evidently committed by both sides in the conflict is absolutely indefensible," said Philip Luther, Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa head.

"Two years have passed and it's high time the wheels of justice started turning."

In Gaza, although new roads have been constructed, many areas remain desolated and the economy has ground to a standstill.

More than 120,000 homes were at least partly damaged, while around 20,000 were left totally uninhabitable in the war, according to the United Nations.

The Mediterranean enclave's unemployment rate of 45 percent is one of the highest in the world, while child labour has doubled over the past five years, according to Palestinian estimates.

Sohad al-Masry, a 40-year-old housewife, lost her home in the war, in which her cousin was killed.

"I don't like to remember but I am sad," she told AFP. "They have not rebuilt the destroyed houses, the siege and closure (continue), and there is unemployment."

Fears of another Israel offensive, which would be the fourth since 2008, have grown in recent months after Israeli forces uncovered two Hamas "attack" tunnels allegedly reaching across the border.

After a brief flare-up in May, leaders on both sides have talked of being ready for another conflict.

"I am very worried a fourth war is coming. The occupation is threatening war on Hamas's tunnels," said Mohammed Abu Daqa, 26, who works in a government school.

He called on Hamas to reconcile with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas's Fatah movement, which runs the West Bank, to whip up global support for lifting the siege of Gaza.

"But unfortunately Hamas and Fatah are not ready for a reconciliation," he said.

*The story was edited by Ahram Online.

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M omsri
08-07-2016 12:01pm
1-
20+
If Gaza had not fired thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians
There would have been no devastating assault. Imagine the reaction if thousands of rockets were fired at Cairo. Hamas started the war not to lose face because Israelis re-arrested the Shalit prisoners after Hamas killed 3 defenceless kids in another botched abduction attempt. The only reason Hamas still exists is because Israel and Egypt allows them to exist. For the moment.
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M omsri
08-07-2016 12:01pm
0-
1+
If Gaza had not fired thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians
There would have been no devastating assault. Imagine the reaction if thousands of rockets were fired at Cairo. Hamas started the war not to lose face because Israelis re-arrested the Shalit prisoners after Hamas killed 3 defenceless kids in another botched abduction attempt. The only reason Hamas still exists is because Israel and Egypt allows them to exist. For the moment.
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