Over a month has passed since Hamas and Israel announced their unilateral ceasefires in Gaza. The situation has not changed for those who lost their homes. Inadequately housed in tents, malnourished, they are in despair.
One of the distressed homeless, Ilham al Attar, a Gaza resident, referring to the Israelis, said: “They just speak, look what happened to us, they don’t care about us. Our sons are sick from the cold,look at the tents. Last night all the tents blew away in the the storm. All our children are sick”. The Israeli offensive against the Gaza Strip lasted 22 days and more than 1,300 Palestinian died. But the material cost is enormous too. The Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction estimates the damage at a cost of around 1.54 billion euros. Five thousand houses have been destroyed, 20 000 houses damaged, possibly beyond repair. The total cost of reconstruction for the housing sector alone is estimated at 370 million euros. Efforts to rebuild are undermined, according to the Palestinians, by the Israeli blockade that prevents the entry into Gaza of materials, such as cement and steel, which, Israel fears could be used by Hamas to build bunkers. The residents of Gaza must purchase what materials they can find, on the black market. In Jabaliya in northern Gaza, Hussain Jneid, a builder, said: “A bag of cement costs between 30 shekels, or six euros, to 250 shekels (about 50 euros). The iron we are using is recycled because there is nothing coming in. There is no crossing which lets the material in.” Restrictions on the border even disrupt emergency aid, thousands of tonnes of materials are stuck at the gates of Gaza. The chief of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in Gaza, John Ging wants action: “It’s more urgent today that it has ever been before to find the solutions to get these crossing points open, to get the materials in. But I have to say, we have to be clear, we are not even getting in the food and medicine that has been donated.” But hopes of a quick fix remain tenuous at best. In Khan Younis, a scheme to house Gazans made homeless by previous Israeli attacks remains unfinished due to lack of equipment and resources, as a result of the continuing Israeli blockade.