While Israel is actively working to assist reconstruction in Gaza and continues to fulfill all its obligations, implementation of the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism is being slowed by bottlenecks stemming from the enmity between Hamas and the PA and the non-delivery of promised funding.
The Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism (GRM), which was formed by agreement between the UN, Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) in September 2014, is aimed at benefitting the residents of the Gaza Strip while preventing diversion of construction materials for terrorist purposes.
Israel supports reconstruction in Gaza despite its valid concerns regarding the diversion of materials. The Hamas rulers of Gaza have a long history of diverting massive amounts of imported materials and other aid for use in its terrorist infrastructure, including in the construction of terror attack tunnels.
Israel is actively working to assist reconstruction in Gaza. It continues to fulfill all its obligations, not least by facilitating the passage into the Gaza Strip of building materials purchased by the PA. By the beginning of March, over 68,000 tons of building materials (such as cement, aggregate and re-bar/steel) had entered Gaza.
Despite Israel’s best efforts, reconstruction in Gaza is being hampered by political difficulties, particularly the conflict between the PA and Hamas.
Hamas’ first interest is the preservation of its rule over Gaza. Therefore, Hamas is taking action to prevent the PA from gaining a foothold in the Gaza Strip and has not allowed the PA to take full responsibility for the crossings into Gaza – this despite its knowledge that the PA’s presence is required for reconstruction. In addition, Hamas continues to place its interests above those of the residents of Gaza, including the confiscation of quantities of construction materials entering Gaza for use in the restoration of its terrorist capabilities.
On the other hand, the PA leadership has a strong interest in weakening the Hamas regime. This goal has influenced members of the PA’s working levels, who appear to lack commitment to the reconstruction process.
Specifically, the PA is not participating in the financial support of residents whose houses were destroyed. It has yet to publish the final report on damages and costs, which donor countries consider to be a delaying tactic. The PA has not fulfilled its monitoring commitments with regards to construction-related enforcement, and uses bureaucratic practices to delay progress, taking advantage of the fact that it is the only administrative link between Israel and the Gaza Strip
Another factor affecting reconstruction efforts in the Gaza Strip is the availability of sufficient funds. Although international donors have pledged to contribute vast sums of monies, the internal Palestinian rivalry between Hamas and the PA has led to delays in the transfer of a significant portion of the promised USD 2.5 billion. The willingness of donors to fulfill their commitments depends to a very large extent on the active involvement of the PA in the reconstruction process, as well as the existence of a security-political structure in the Gaza Strip that guarantees the stability of Gaza and the reconstruction project.
Implementation of the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism is being slowed by numerous bottlenecks to reconstruction efforts, stemming first and foremost from the enmity between Hamas and the PA, as well as the non-delivery of promised funding. Nevertheless, Israel is continuing to fulfill all its obligations under the GRM agreement and believes that if significant funding is transferred, considerable reconstruction in the Gaza Strip is a realistic scenario.