Palestinian residences, hospitals, schools, government offices, businesses, local and international media outlet buildings lay in ruins after massive airstrikes in the Gaza Strip and occupied West Bank. A ceasefire ended an 11-day barrage of missiles between the Zionist State of Israel and primarily the Palestinian resistance group Hamas on May 20.
It left massive destruction of property and a carnage of nearly 300 Palestinians, men, women, and children. Over a dozen Israelis died. Since the ceasefire agreement, diplomatic efforts to solidify the fragile truce and handle humanitarian assistance and reconstruction has been going on.
“We know that to prevent a return to violence we have to use the space created to address a larger set of underlying issues and challenges,” said Antony Blinken, the U.S. secretary of state.
“That begins with tackling the grave humanitarian situation in Gaza and starting to rebuild,” he added.
Mr. Blinken visited the region May 25 to announce a pledge of $75 million in additional 2021 U.S. development and economic aid to the Palestinians; $5.5 million in immediate disaster relief for Gaza and $32 million to the UN aid agency for Palestine. However, the stipulation is that the “Palestinian people, not Hamas,” benefit from the assistance. Hamas, which rules Gaza rejected the stipulation as intentionally divisive and dismissed any inference it will siphon off funds to itself and promised “transparent and impartial” distribution of the aid.
“I affirm our commitment not to take a single cent intended for reconstruction and humanitarian efforts,” said Yahya Sinwar, the head of Hamas’ Gaza political wing. “We have never taken a cent in the past.”
He countered, the stipulation was a move to further divide Hamas—which America designated a terrorist group—and the Palestinian Authority, it accepts as the legitimate Palestinian leadership.
“We will never fall for this trick and lash out at each other,” he told journalists.
Critics say America’s pledge amounts to crumbs. Considering that Israel, an “advanced, industrialized, technologically sophisticated country,” ranking among the world’s higher per capita income nations, receives approximately a third of the U.S. foreign aid budget—the most worldwide.
Brian Becker, national coordinator of the Act Now to End Racism and War Coalition (A.N.S.W.E.R.) told The Final Call it is “ludicrous, bazar, and absurd” that U.S. funds provides military cooperation to Israel, which carries out wars that inflicts massive damage on the infrastructure and people of Gaza.
“And then following the destruction the U.S. government says, ‘we’re here to help the people of Gaza rebuild all of that which has been destroyed by U.S. funded Israeli war,’” said Mr. Becker.
“If the United States really cared about the people in Gaza…the West Bank, and the people throughout historic Palestine,” he reasoned, “it will immediately end all U.S. aid which finances Israeli crimes against humanity war crimes Israeli crimes against peace.”
Humanitarian experts warned that the destruction in Gaza will take years, if not decades, to fix. It’s the new normal, said Matthias Schmale, senior official with the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinians (UNRWA).
“Going back to normal life means having to watch very carefully where we are going,” said Mr. Schmale. He was referring to the dangerous landscape of collapsed buildings and unexploded devices.
“We know that at least one school, one of our 278 schools … we have established two deeply buried bombs, and we have alerted the Israeli authorities,” he said. “Obviously we cannot just rush back into our buildings and schools, we have to make sure they’re safe.”
Mr. Schmale was speaking from Gaza May 21, one day into the ceasefire which stopped the missiles, however left large scale destruction to overcome. Although nations and bodies like the UN and European Union have pledged reconstruction funds, America may have a deeper obligation as the main benefactor of the Zionist state of Israel.
Rebuilding after Israeli bombardments have always been unstable because underlying causes of the upset between Zionist occupiers and marginalized occupied Palestinians remains unresolved.
“I’m convinced after being here two and a half years that we will be back in war unless underlying causes are addressed,” said Mr. Schmale. That means giving Palestinians a dignified life.
Along with hospitals, schools, and the only Covid-19 testing clinic, the Israeli military destroyed over 400 structures. However, more dire than material loss are 91,000 newly displaced Palestinians. Power cuts are an everyday occurrence in Gaza and before the latest upsurge in fighting, households in Gaza were receiving power on eight-hour rotations, reported the BBC.
“The latest violence is said to have damaged power lines and disrupted fuel supplies. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha), most homes are now receiving power for only three-four hours per day,” noted bbc.com. Water shortages are routine as well as sewage problems for Palestinians.
Bombing civilian infrastructure is a possible war crime and crimes against humanity under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which the Palestinians are members. There are growing calls for the ICC to accelerate investigations into possible Israeli war crimes.
Although 73 years of Zionist settler occupation marginalized the Palestinian people, Middle East watchers are saying there is a global shift not in Israel’s nor America’s favor.
The Biden administration recognizes the relentless American backed aggression of Israel is weakening the U.S regionally and global public opinion which decidedly shifted in universal opposition to the Israeli regime. Geopolitical analysts note that the Biden administration desired to distance itself from Israel and not focus on the plight of the Palestinians nor expend political capital mitigating the transgressions of its ally, Israel. Analysts say, at least that was the intention.
“But make no mistake about it, the United States is still joined at the hip with the Israeli criminal regime,” said Mr. Becker. “It presents itself as a contradiction in paradox for U.S. foreign policy, from which it will not presently escape,” he added.
Under former President Donald Trump, the U.S. gave a green light to Israeli actions that led to more aggression, ethnic cleansing, illegal settlements and forced evictions of Palestinians. It created a tender box that would eventually explode.
However, for Palestinians the adversity created a new basis for unity. Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank. Jerusalem, the so-called Arab cities of Israel and the Palestinian diaspora worldwide are now marching as one people. Opponents of Israel’s oppression saw the aggression as classic over-reach.
“Instead of dividing the Palestinian people it has united Palestinian resistance globally and made the struggle for justice in Palestine a magnet for all of those everywhere who believe in justice,” said Mr. Becker.