Israel, Gaza and the Arab narrative

Tuvia Brodie,

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Tuvia Brodie
Tuvia Brodie has a PhD from the University of Pittsburgh under the name Philip Brodie. He has worked for the University of Pittsburgh, Chatham College and American Express. He and his wife made aliyah in 2010. All of his children have followed. He believes in Israel's right to exist. He believes that the words of Tanach (the Jewish Bible) are meant for us. His blog address is http://tuviainil.blogspot.com He usually publishes 3-4 times a week on his blog and 1-3 times at Arutz Sheva. Please check the blog regularly for new posts.

According to press reports, the Palestinian Authority (PA) played a major role in rebuilding Gaza after Gaza-Israel fighting in 2012 (“Ruined Gaza Will Not Be Rebuilt By Hamas, But International Aid”, International Business Times, August 7, 2014). The PA did this even though it had been kicked out of Gaza in 2007 (ibid). It took a leadership role working with donors and wealthy Arabs to help reconstruct homes and businesses that had been destroyed in Gaza by Israel (ibid).

At least, that’s the Arab narrative.

Now, after another war with Israel in 2014, the PA says it will once again play a major role in rebuilding Gaza. At least, that’s the Arab narrative.

The fifty-day 2014 conflict created at least 273,000 internal refugees in Gaza and caused at least $5 billion in damage (“The fourth Gaza War: 5 predictions”, Jewish Journal, October 14, 2014). The actual cost to rebuild Gaza could be closer to 8 billion (“Will this be the last time the world is willing to rebuild Gaza?”, EMAJ Magazine, October 8, 2014). So far, pledges for Gaza have reached $5.4 billion (“Donors Pledge $5.4 Billion to Rebuild Gaza”, Wall Street Journal, October 12, 2014).

That’s a lot of cash. The Arab narrative is, it’ll all be used to rebuild Gaza.

Of course, the PA and Hamas have world-class reputations for corruption. But the Arab narrative is, that 5.4 billion won’t disappear.  

The official challenges of rebuilding focus on how funds and construction materials will be used. Israel is concerned about that rebuilding. Israelis are worried about what actually will be ‘rebuilt’.

Israel has good reason to be concerned. During the 2014 fighting with Gaza, Israel discovered more than 36 ‘terror tunnels’. These tunnels were extremely well-built. Israeli officials have estimated that each one of these tunnels had required at least 350 truckloads of material, mostly cement and mortar (“Palestinian Authority: Reconstructing Gaza will cost at least $ 6 billion), Palestine Monitor, August 8, 2014). Israel wants to control the flow of such material into Gaza. It doesn’t want to see these materials diverted to rebuild these tunnels. 

We’ve been down this road before.  The Arab narrative has been that, after 2007, Israel had unfairly restricted cement imports into Gaza; the Israelis, they claimed, were preventing Gaza from rebuilding homes, schools, and hospitals. Anti-Israel advocates demonized Israel over these restrictions (“Genocide: The Israeli-Egyptian Siege against the People of Gaza”, Global Research, December 17, 2013). The argument was, Israel refused to allow building materials into Gaza. Poor people were being left homeless (ibid).

At least, that was the Arab narrative (ibid).

As it turns out, a large share of the cement that did reach Gaza didn’t go to homes, schools, infrastructure or factories, as the Arab narrative claimed “(“Gaza's Next Disaster: No Cement for Rebuilding”, Bloomberg Business Week, July 31, 2014). Instead, as the Israelis had said all along, those materials went towards the building of underground lairs and attack tunnels for fighters from Hamas (ibid).

After the 2014 Gaza fighting, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) estimated that, if some 350 truckloads of building material(above) had been used for each tunnel discovered, that added up to something like 12,600 truckloads. Since the average cement-truck carries a lot of cement, that meant that more than 300,000 tons of cement had been diverted from homes, schools and infrastructure in order to complete military-use construction.

As one pro-Israel site explains this problem, if you want to see how Gaza has in fact used its past reconstruction donations and rebuilding materials, consider what Hamas has built since 2007: 2 hospitals, 20 schools, 3 ‘towers’, 3 malls—and perhaps as many as 1,370 terror tunnels (“Pot calls kettle black: Hamas accuses PA of 'misusing' Gaza reconstruction funds”, Israel Matzav, January 7, 2015).

Of course, anti-Israel advocates don’t give a damn about Israel’s concerns. They don’t care that Hamas and the PA have used cement for terror tunnels instead of schools and homes. Their attitude is, “It’s impossible not to allow construction materials into Gaza. You cannot leave 1.7 million people without homes, schools, clinics, a working sewage system” (Bloomberg Business Week, ibid).

Well, it now seems that Hamas has its own narrative about the rebuilding of Gaza. Three weeks ago, Hamas accused the PA, not Israel, for ‘harming’ the rebuilding effort (“Hamas: The PA uses Gaza reconstruction funds for other purposes”, Palestine Information Center, January 6, 2015).

Here are some of Hamas’ accusations against the PA:

-The PA has taken money away from the rebuilding donations fund. The PA uses this money instead to pay salaries—but only to civil servants who had been appointed by the PA, not by Hamas (ibid).

-the main reason (Hamas’s words) behind the failure to reconstruct the post-war Gaza Strip wasn’t Israel. It was the PA’s misusing grants which had been provided for reconstruction projects (ibid).

-A report released by Oxfam, a global UK charity, has already warned that, despite $5.4 billion in pledges at a 2014 international donor conference--and despite an agreement between the Palestinian Authority, Israel and the UN to allow for the transfer of building materials-- only a few truckloads of materials have actually found their way into the Strip (ibid). Already, most have had their loads diverted for black-market sale or unauthorized use (ibid).

The Arab narrative states that the PA-Hamas unity government works for the good of its people. It doesn’t. It has no concern for its people whatsoever.

This so-called ‘government’ misleads, lies to, and steals from its own people. On a daily basis, they do more damage to their people than Israel.

Unfortunately, no one gives a damn. They’re too busy reciting the Arab narrative.