By: Omar Shaban
After the Israeli assaults on the Gaza Strip in both 2008-2009 and 2014, the governments in Gaza and Ramallah did not have a consensus on blueprints and strategies for the Gaza reconstruction process. Once again, the same scenario of Gaza reconstruction is happening in the wake of the May 2021 conflict. The disagreement between the two governments may result in another spectacular failure to achieve the process. Consider the following milestones that are based on successful international experiences:
- The reconstruction process must move forward immediately. Families still living in ruins must return to their normal lives as they cannot help waiting impatiently. To this end, an emergency fund must be formulated to provide an immediate relief intervention to handle the disastrous consequences of the conflict on healthcare (physical and mental), food security, and essential needs.
- Reconstruction must be politically neutral. According to lessons learned from international experiences in this regard, a special national jury must be formed, be officially monitored, and must possess a participatory approach allowing the Palestinian society to engage with the activities of the jury. One reason to have a such a jury is that it can serve as protection from the governmental bureaucracy that could cause unnecessary delays in a return to normalcy in Gaza.
- The reconstruction process is a chance to refine the Palestinian political program, garner solidarity, and alleviate the society’s ordeals. Consider the Republic of Rwanda’s experience; this country became socially coherent and economically prosperous after clashes erupted between its tribes.
- The Gaza reconstruction is another chance for the local economy to flourish and thrive through depending on local factories, companies, and human resources. Indeed, construction materials can be found in these local facilities and thus the process becomes a national workshop that engages all – especially civilians who have been directly affected by the war.
- The emergency reconstruction fund is for one purpose only. It should not be used to cover any deficits or support any other program. Any money in the special fund is to be kept separate from other funds or budget items allocated to budget deficit.
- The formation of a special fund for the reconstruction process will necessitate monitoring, accountability, and trust. This fund encourages the donor countries to contribute to the reconstruction process, reunite society through mobilizing active community members to take a role in the fund’s activities, and thus makes the reconstruction of Gaza a guaranteed and validated process. Such a fund can be the main channel to both receive the donors’ contributions to Gaza and project proposals from local implementing companies.
- It must be noted that many people use this situation for personal interests. On behalf of the real victims, scammers request funds from local and international entities under the pretext of supporting Gaza. We should learn from dozens of examples in African and Latin America which caused inflation and resulted in an ineffectual reconstruction.
In brief, the reconstruction process must have a separate fund from the general budget. This fund must explicitly and effectively benefit the victims, overcome bureaucracy. The process of fund’s receiving and disbursement must be accredited and monitored by an independent body.