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Aid agencies: Gaza reconstruction barely begun, end to blockade vital

A coalition of more than 40 international aid agencies has urged the international community to take substantial steps to end the misery of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

‘Charting a New Course: Overcoming the stalemate in Gaza’, published Monday by the Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA), and signed off by dozens of leading NGOs, paints a bleak picture and warns of renewed violence.

Six months since donors pledged $3.5 billion towards rebuilding a devastated Gaza, the report states that “reconstruction and recovery have barely begun, there has been no accountability for violations of international law, and Gaza remains cut off from the West Bank.”

Despite the “unprecedented destruction and suffering” brought about by Israel’s 2014 assault, “only 26.8 percent of money pledged by donors six months ago has been released so far”, with “many reconstruction projects” stalled “due to restrictions on essential material under the blockade.”

“Rather than challenging the [Israeli] blockade”, the AIDA report found, “most donors are accepting ways to work around it.”

In an illustration of the problems facing Palestinians in Gaza under Israeli restrictions, local human rights groups cited Sunday revealed that Israel has arrested 19 merchants at Erez crossing since the beginning of this year.

AIDA also notes that since the ceasefire in August 2014, “violence against civilians has continued, with more than 400 incidents of Israeli fire into Gaza and four rockets fired from Gaza into Israel.”

Commenting on the report, Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam said that “the promising speeches at the donor conference have turned into empty words”, with “little rebuilding, no permanent ceasefire agreement and no plan to end the blockade.”

Christian Aid’s William Bell, meanwhile, accused the international community of “facilitating a culture of impunity”, while Tony Laurance, CEO of MAP UK, stated that “with the blockade in place we are just reconstructing a life of misery, poverty and despair.”

The report calls for renewed ceasefire talks, accountability for “ongoing violations of international law”, Palestinian political actors “to reconcile and prioritize reconstruction”, Egypt “to open its border to allow humanitarian relief”, and for “an end to the Israeli blockade that seals in 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza and keeps them separated from the West Bank.”

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