The Palestinian Prime Minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, has announced that reconstruction projects funded by the State of Qatar have got under way. “Qatar is a partner in our victory as it is the main supporter in the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip,” he said.
During the inauguration ceremony for the projects, held in front of the remains of his office, which was destroyed during the Israeli offensive, Mr. Haniyeh added: “Starting the reconstruction from this place is a necessary step at the beginning of the building works. This is symbolic of our resistance.”
The Prime Minister expressed his belief that the Israelis cannot eliminate the Palestinians: “While one hand is building the other is fighting.” He did not spell out that this meant military resistance, but Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal affirmed recently that the movement sees resistance to be valid on many fronts – political, diplomatic and armed.
Speaking of the need for even more external assistance to rebuild Gaza after the Israeli destruction, Mr. Haniyeh suggested that he is preparing for a trip to Qatar to ask Emir Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani to increase the amount promised during the Qatari ruler’s groundbreaking visit to the Gaza Strip in October. That was described by Haniyeh as an explicit statement that the six-year political isolation of Gaza is over. “That was the start of an Arabic openness about the Gaza Strip,” he insisted.
With regards to the ongoing Israeli siege, Prime Minister Haniyeh said that he would not forget the farmers working near to the border or the fishermen who are working in a tiny portion of Palestine’s territorial waters. “We hope to increase the area of fishing to the internationally-recognised 12 miles,” he said.
Qatari ambassador Mohammed al-Imadi commented that, “After three months, we are on the verge of seeing real reconstruction taking place.”
The Qatari Committee for Reconstructing Gaza proposed tenders for the projects and 24 construction companies were chosen to work on the first stage. Ambassador Al-Imadi said that all of the companies will also be part of the following stages of the reconstruction scheme.
MEMO Photographer: Mohammed Asad