Special Report from EurActiv:- ‘A row is brewing over claims that Israel is earning millions of euros from a de facto policy of preventing non-Israeli reconstruction aid from entering the Gaza Strip.
At least 65,000 people in the Gaza Strip are homeless after the recent seven-week conflict. Infrastructure ranging from water desalination centres to power plants lies in ruins.
No formal Israeli ban prevents the import of reconstruction materials that were not made in Israel, but EU sources speaking on condition of anonymity say that in practice, Israeli security demands present them with a fait accompli.
“If you want aid materials to be permitted to enter, they will almost inevitably come from Israeli sources,” an EU official said. “I don’t think you’ll find it written down anywhere in official policy, but when you get to negotiate with the Israelis, this is what happens. It increases construction and transaction costs, and is a political problem that has to be dealt with.”
As well as Israel’s security restrictions on aid, “it can be very difficult to export materials to Gaza,” the official said. “A lot of goods for a Gaza private sector reconstruction project we had, ended up being held in Ashdod port for very lengthy periods of time – months if not years – so there was de facto no alternative but to use Israeli sources.”
The source added that the policy had benefited Israel’s economy to the tune of millions of euros and was, in his view, deliberate.
The European Commission donates some €300 million in development aid to Gaza and the West Bank every year, and around €200 million in humanitarian aid.
The EU official’s allegation received backing from international agencies canvassed by EurActiv and is broadly in line with findings in a UN report due to be published later today (3 September).
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) study will say that half of all donor assistance to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza – who the UN body say constitute a captive market – is spent on servicing a trade deficit to Israel.’
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