Defrauding Gaza: Israel’s vulture culture

Jonathan Cook writes: 

It’s outrageous but entirely predictable that Israel is ensuring it is the chief beneficiary of the reconstruction aid being directing at Gaza. Israel has an informal policy of allowing into the Strip only Israeli-made goods for reconstruction – mainly steel and cement – and thereby guarantees its contractors and middlemen a large slice of the profits.

In fact, this has always been the case. According to this story,

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) study will say that half of all donor assistance to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza – who the UN body say constitute a captive market – is spent on servicing a trade deficit to Israel.

European officials, who as usual will be picking up the tab for most of Israel’s destruction, are reported to be appalled at Israel’s restrictions.

“It is outrageous that a country which has just demolished 25,000 houses is demanding that their construction industry benefit from rebuilding them at the expense of the international community. Talk about chutzpah writ large!”

Except the real chutzpah here is the EU’s. This policy is nothing new. Israel has always treated Gaza as a captive market, as I documented in my book Disappearing Palestine. Even after disengagement, the blockade became a way to maintain Gaza’s dependence on Israel.

The problem is not how aid reaches Gaza. It’s that Israel continues, with the implicit support of the European Union and the US, to refuse Gaza and the West Bank access to the outside world. Build an airport and seaport in Gaza, for example, and Israel’s vulture culture – though that’s too kind, vultures don’t kill the prey they scavenge on – will be put to an end.

Well, it will be if Israel is not allowed to destroy those ports, and then force donors to pay it for allowing the reconstruction.

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