Thursday, 28 October 2010

3 days in Gaza

By the 3rd day on Gaza I was very sick. The food supply was intermittent and was not working in tandem with the drugs I had been given. When Alla, our translater, arrived beaming that she had manged to fix an interview with the Minister for Housing and Public Works, it was all I could do to get into the van. After less than 5 minutes I was so nauseous that we had to stop so that I could get out and lie in the road. Nonethe less I would not forgo the opportunity for another top level interview, and nibbled like amouse at a piece of bread to try and steady myself.

They are desperate to house people in Gaza. The minister of Housing and Public Works, Dr Yousef Mansi looked tired. In the madness of Israeli strikes against Palestinian people in the winter of 2008-9, 5000 houses were completely destroyed, 50,000 partially. Thousands remain homeless and there is a housing shortage of 100,000 units. How can he build when cement is a banned substance? Gaza is a desert. There is no rock to quarry, no clay for brickmaking. The tunnels under the border with Egypt are a vital lifeline, but why should it be like this. The siege of Gaza is illegal - the UN has said so. But the Egyptian government is now owned by America. Egypt has signed a secret pact with Israel and part of the bargain is to maintain the illegal blockade along the small border Gaza shares with Egypt. This is preposterous, and obviously illegal, yet the British, the Americans and Europe all prop up the Israeli terror regime by doing nothing. My own taxes prop up this inhumanity and my compulsory licence fee to the BBC props up the inhumanity through disinformation and lack of truthful reportage.

Despite everything, the Ministry for Housing tries to ensure that construction skills are kept up to date for when the blockade is ended and building materials are allowed in. They work on innovation and reusing the rubble to improve the harbour. They would like to work on sustainability, but there is not a solar cell in Gaza - a land of almost constant sunshine which could generate a constant supply of energy. No money, no building materials, no nothing. Some irreparably damaged buildings cannot even be taken down because they lack the equipment to do so.

Before the hideous 2008-9 Israeli air strikes which followed the democratic election of Hamas, decimated the city and killed 1600 Palestinian men women and children, there had been international aid to build houses, now there is nothing. The UN, who has spoken out against the "medieval" siege is now in fact an active participant by way of its own inaction.

The government in Gaza needs help from someone. The EU, the US and the UK have turned their backs. But Gaza cannot live solely on inadequate food handouts and what can be smuggled in through the tunnels. Therefore the help is accepted from Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Bank in Jeddah. So while the West thinks it is being oh-so-clever in reducing the Palestinians to their knees, a new Islamic society is being formed under their very noses.

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