The Israeli military blockade of Gaza started in 2007. In practice, this means all imports and exports of goods, services and people are regulated. The Israeli siege has had a devastating effect on the region’s economy. The UN reports that over one million people in Gaza suffer from poverty and at least 65% of Palestinians under the age of thirty are unemployed.
The people of Gaza, suffering from the siege, have also witnessed periodic bombardments over the decade. In May 2021, for over eleven days Israel bombed Gaza, extensively damaging the infrastructure and exacerbating the already dire humanitarian conditions.
The May 2021 bombardment damaged more than seventy-three government offices, forty-nine schools, thirty-nine mosques, whilst also impairing Gaza’s only laboratory for COVID-19. Furthermore, over one thousand, three hundred homes were completely destroyed and at least one hundred thousand Palestinians were displaced. Many are being sheltered within schools run by the UN.
According to Palestinian government officials in Gaza, rebuilding homes, schools, medical facilities, as well as repairing sanitation will cost hundreds of millions of dollars.
Both Egypt and Qatar have pledged to provide $500 million to help reconstruction in Gaza. Additionally, the UK, China, the US, Germany, the UN, and the EU have all agreed to provide financial assistance, totalling $125.3 million for humanitarian relief and emergency aid.
While these funds would help repair the damages, the transfer of financial aid is being blocked by Israel, who caused the devastation in the first place.
Israel stated how aid will only arrive into Gaza if two Israeli soldiers currently under captivity, as well as the bodies of two deceased soldiers are released. However, Israel is not willing to discuss the sixty-eight Palestinian bodies it is holding, as well as the five thousand, three hundred political prisoners it has captured.
As a result of Israel’s restrictions, no significant reconstruction efforts have taken place. The bombs and the rockets may have stopped, but Israel’s siege remains and the suffering of the people of Gaza continues.
For Palestinians such as Mithqal al-Sirsawy, this level of uncertainty is agonising. His house was completely destroyed by Israel’s assault in May and requires roughly fifty thousand dollars to reconstruct.
“Living in schools is intolerable…my life has become a hell and my family are not safe.”