Less than two months after the latest Israel-Hamas war ended in late August 2014 with both sides claiming victory, foreign donors met in Cairo and pledged $3.5 billion in reconstruction aid for Gaza. Gulf Arab states, where pro-Palestinian public sentiment is strong, promised more than half the amount, or $1.9 billion.
To date, however, $1.2 billion of the $3.5 billion has been delivered, with Gulf states dispensing only about $170 million. Like other donors, Gulf governments have attached conditions on how their aid money is spent, according to Palestinian, United Nations and World Bank officials.
“Donors have different requirements and priorities,” said Bashir Rayyes, who coordinates the Gaza aid effort for the United Nations and reports to the Palestinian Authority, which governs the West Bank.
Chief among these differences is their views about Gaza’s rulers. While Qatar supports Hamas, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have grown more aggressive in recent years in their opposition to Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups across the region.
With the blessing of Hamas, Qatar has an office in Gaza from which it employs contractors and local workers to carry out road, school and home reconstruction. It has spent only a fraction of the $1 billion it pledged in Cairo, instead disbursing funds it promised to Gaza after the previous Israel-Hamas war in 2012.
Ahmad Abu Rass, who heads the office, said Doha won’t shell out more cash in Gaza until other donors step up efforts to fulfill their pledges. A half-hearted aid effort only sows more despair among Gazans and sets the stage for another round of fighting, making any aid a wasted investment, he said.
I ran the numbers from the World Bank (as of last August.) Counting only states for which information was available, Muslim states pledged $2.168 billion, of which only $270 million was paid, 12.5%. Non-Muslim nations had pledged $1.242 billion and paid $960 million, over 77%.
The article ends off this way:
Abdelraziq Harara, 53, was one of the lucky ones, though. He was one of the first 1,000 Gazans promised help to rebuild his home when Qatar finally started distributing aid three months ago. The $50,000 to reconstruct his home was delivered in four installments.Wouldn't it be great if Israel took him up on that offer?
When his 65-year-old brother Jihad visited the same ministry of public works office in Gaza City, he was promised funds—eventually. Last month, he was told Kuwait would supply the money but arrangements for the payments were still being made with the Palestinian Authority.
As Qatar’s maroon-and-white flag flew above a completed house nearby, Jihad said he had no control over what country aided him or why. He just hoped the money would come soon.
“If the Israelis built the house, I’d fly the Israeli flag.”