Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 27 November 2014

Gaza: Demolished in three weeks. Rebuilding it will take years

A mother and child sit among the ruins of their home in Rafah, southern Gaza, one of 4,000 homes destroyed in the war
A mother and child sit among the ruins of their home in Rafah, southern Gaza, one of 4,000 homes destroyed in the war
A United Nations worker surveys the damage from Israeli bombardment at the United Nations headquarters in Gaza City, Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009. Witnesses and U.N. officials said that Israeli shells struck the United Nations headquarters in Gaza City.The U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon has expressed "strong protest and outrage" to Israel over the shelling of the compound. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
An Israeli soldier stands infront of pale blue 155mm rounds marked M825A1. According to Jane's Missiles and Rockets the M825A1 rounds are US-made white phosphorus munitions.
A United Nations worker surveys the damage from Israeli bombardment at the United Nations headquarters in Gaza City, Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009. Witnesses and U.N. officials said that Israeli shells struck the United Nations headquarters in Gaza City. The U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon has expressed "strong protest and outrage" to Israel over the shelling of the compound. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
A Unitet Nations worker is seen as smoke billows from Israeli bombardment at the United Nations headquarters in Gaza City, Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009. Witnesses and U.N. officials said that Israeli shells struck the United Nations headquarters in Gaza City.The U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon has expressed "strong protest and outrage" to Israel over the shelling of the compound. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
Smoke rises after an Israeli bombing in the Gaza Strip, as seen from the Israeli side of the border between southern Israel and the Gaza Strip, Thursday Jan. 15, 2009. Israeli forces shelled the United Nations headquarters in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, setting the compound on fire as U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon was in the area on a mission to end Israel's devastating offensive against the territory's Hamas rulers. Ban expressed "outrage" over the incident.(AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
A United Nations worker surveys the damage from Israeli bombardment at the United Nations headquarters in Gaza City, Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009. Witnesses and U.N. officials said that Israeli shells struck the United Nations headquarters in Gaza City.The U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon has expressed "strong protest and outrage" to Israel over the shelling of the compound. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
United Nations workers and Palestinian firefighters work to try and put out a fire and save bags of food aid at the United Nations headquarters after it was hit in Israeli bombardment in Gaza City, Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009. Israeli forces shelled the United Nations headquarters in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, setting the compound on fire as U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon was in the area on a mission to end Israel's devastating offensive against the territory's Hamas rulers. Ban expressed "outrage" over the incident.(AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
United Nations workers and Palestinian firefighters work to try and put out a fire and save bags of food aid at the United Nations headquarters after it was hit in Israeli bombardment in Gaza City, Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009. Israeli forces shelled the United Nations headquarters in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, setting the compound on fire as U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon was in the area on a mission to end Israel's devastating offensive against the territory's Hamas rulers. Ban expressed "outrage" over the incident.(AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
Palestinians flee their neighborhood following an Israeli army operation in Gaza city, Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009. Israeli forces shelled the United Nations headquarters in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, setting the compound on fire as U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon was in the area on a mission to end Israel's devastating offensive against the territory's Hamas rulers. Ban expressed "outrage" over the incident. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
A Palestinian man reacts as he holds a blood stained sheet at the entrance to Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009. Israeli forces shelled the United Nations headquarters in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, setting the compound on fire as U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon was in the area on a mission to end Israel's devastating offensive against the territory's Hamas rulers. (AP Photo/Thaer Al-Hasani)
Israeli reserve soldiers rejoice as they see others crossing back into Israel from a combat mission in the Gaza Strip, Monday, Jan. 12, 2009. Israeli warplanes pounded the homes of Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip and ground troops edged ever closer to the territory's densely-populated urban center Monday but reported casualties were low, an indication that Hamas was largely avoiding pitched battles with the advancing Israelis. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Flares and smoke are seen during an Israeli military operation in downtown Gaza City, early Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2009. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
A shell fired from an Israeli Army tank explodes over a building in the outskirts of Gaza City, as seen from the Israeli-Gaza border
A Lebanese student protester, flashes a V sign during a demonstration to protest against the Israel's ground attack on the Gaza Strip, in front of the European Commission, in Beirut, Lebanon, on Tuesday Jan. 13, 2009. Israeli ground troops battled Palestinian militants in the streets of a densely populated Gaza City neighborhood early Tuesday, destroying dozens of homes and sending terrified residents running for cover as gunfire and explosions echoed in the distance. (AP Photo / Hussein Malla)
Fares al-Dali drinks tea as he sits on a pile of wood and cartons in a house in the Shati refugee camp in Gaza City, Monday, Jan. 12, 2009. In the al-Dali family's two-room shack in the Shati refugee camp, 21 people _ half of them relatives who fled the fighting _ take turns sleeping because the family doesn't have enough mattresses. For lack of fuel, they cook on trash fires _ paper and cartons collected in the neighborhood. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Palestinians salvage belongings from an apartment building following an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, Tuesday, Jan.13, 2009.Israeli troops advanced into Gaza suburbs for the first time early Tuesday, residents said, hours after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned Islamic militants that they face an "iron fist" unless they agree to Israeli terms for an end to war in the Gaza Strip.(AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
A Palestinian runs past graffiti reading "the anniversary of the movement of the free" as smoke rises following an explosion caused by Israeli military operations in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2009. Israeli troops advanced into Gaza suburbs for the first time early Tuesday, residents said, hours after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned Islamic militants that they face an "iron fist" unless they agree to Israeli terms for an end to war in the Gaza Strip. (AP Photo/Eyad Baba)
Mariam Khalid, 2, holds a Palestinian flag with writing in Arabic reading "An Arab Palestine" as she is held by her mother Nagwa, at a candlelit vigil in a show of mourning and support for those who have died in Gaza, at Talaat Harb square in downtown Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Jan. 12, 2009. Israel's offensive in Gaza has sparked widespread anger across the Middle East, and Egypt, which shares a border with Gaza, has come under criticism for only allowing limited openings of its border - a move seen by many as abetting Israel's siege of Gaza's 1.4 million residents. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
A relative leans over the body of Palestinian Islamic jihad militant Muhammed Al-Hour, in his family house during his funeral, in Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2009. Israeli troops advanced into Gaza suburbs for the first time early Tuesday, residents said, hours after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned Islamic militants that they face an "iron fist" unless they agree to Israeli terms for an end to war in the Gaza Strip. (AP Photo/Khaled Omar)
Israeli army armored vehicles drives towards Israel's border with the Gaza Strip on a combat mission, Monday, Jan. 12, 2009. Israeli warplanes pounded the homes of Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip and ground troops edged ever closer to the territory's densely-populated urban center Monday but reported casualties were low, an indication that Hamas was largely avoiding pitched battles with the advancing Israelis.(AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
An Israeli soldier prays on top of a mobile artillery position in a staging area near Israel's border with Gaza, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2009. Israeli troops advanced into Gaza suburbs for the first time early Tuesday, residents said, hours after Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned Islamic militants that they face an "iron fist" unless they agree to Israeli terms for an end to war in the Gaza Strip. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
An Israeli Army soldier prepares for morning prayers next to his armoured vehicle on the Israeli side of Israel-Gaza border Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2009. Israeli troops advanced into Gaza suburbs for the first time early Tuesday, residents said, hours after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned Islamic militants that they face an "iron fist" unless they agree to Israeli terms for an end to war in the Gaza Strip. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
An Israeli army mortar squad fires a round towards a target in the Gaza Strip, from the Israel side of the border, in southern Israel, Monday Jan. 12, 2009. Israeli warplanes pounded the homes of Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip and ground troops edged ever closer to the territory's densely-populated urban center Monday but reported casualties were low, an indication that Hamas was largely avoiding pitched battles with the advancing Israelis(AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, gestures while heading a PLO Executive Committee meeting at his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2009. Israeli ground troops battled Palestinian militants in the streets of a densely populated Gaza City neighborhood early Tuesday, destroying dozens of homes and sending terrified residents running for cover as gunfire and explosions echoed in the distance. (AP Photo / Muhammed Muheisen)
An Israeli attack helicopter fires a flare as seen from the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, Monday Jan. 5, 2009. Israeli forces pounded Gaza Strip houses, mosques and tunnels Monday from the air, land and sea, killing at least seven children and six other civilians, as they consolidated a bruising offensive against Palestinian militants. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
A Palestinian man holds his head in his hands as he reacts at the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, Monday, Jan. 5, 2009. Israeli forces pounded Gaza Strip houses, mosques and smuggling tunnels on Monday from the air, land and sea, killing at least seven children as they pressed a bruising offensive against Palestinian militants. (AP Photo/Ashraf Amra)
Palestinians carry a boy into Shifa hospital in Gaza City, wounded during the Israeli army operation in Gaza, Sunday Jan. 4, 2009. Israeli ground troops and tanks cut swaths through the Gaza Strip Sunday, bisecting the coastal territory and surrounding its biggest city as the new phase of a devastating offensive against the Hamas group gained momentum. (AP Photo/Ashraf Amra)
An Israeli soldier wounded in the Gaza Strip arrives at Soroka Hospital in the southern Israeli town of Beersheba, Monday, Jan. 5, 2009.The expansion of Israel's offensive against Gaza's Hamas rulers into ground battles and artillery salvos is taking a heavier toll on the civilians of the crowded sliver of land, including three toddlers killed Monday by the blast of a crashing shell. (AP Photo/Tara Todras-Whitehill)
Flares from Israeli forces' operations are seen over Gaza City, as seen from southern Israel, Monday, Jan. 5, 2009. Israeli forces pounded Gaza Strip houses, mosques and smuggling tunnels on Monday from the air, land and sea, killing at least seven children as they pressed a bruising offensive against Palestinian militants. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
A Palestinian man reacts after bringing his children who were wounded in an Israeli army incursion into hospital in Gaza City, Monday, Jan. 5, 2009. Israel seized control of high-rise buildings and attacked houses, mosques and smuggling tunnels as it pressed forward with its offensive against the Gaza Strip's Hamas rulers on Monday, even as a stream of European leaders headed for the region to press for a truce. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
A Palestinian demonstrator holds a burning police hat aloft outside the Israeli Embassy on December 29, 2008 in London, England
Palestinians search for bodies in the rubble of the destroyed house of Hamas senior leader Nizar Rayan after an Israeli missiles strike in the refugee camp of Jabaliya on January 1, 2009 in Gaza
A child arrives at Shifa hospital in Gaza City after an Israeli air strike yesterday
Samera Baalusha (34) carries her surving child Mohamad (15 months) while she waits to see the body of her daughter Jawaher Baalusha (aged 4) during the funeral held for her and four of her sisters who were killed in an Israeli missile strike, on December 29, 2008 in the Jebaliya refugee camp, in the northern Gaza Strip. Jawher Baalusha and four of her sisters were killed during an Israeli air raid while they were sleeping together in their bedroom.
You will be martyrs: These were the words spoken by the surviving sister as her five siblings, Jawaher, four, Dina, eight, Samar, 12, Ikram, 15 and Tahrir, 17, lay dying beneath the rubble of their home
Smoke rises above Gaza after another Israeli air strike on a Hamas target, December 29, 2008 along Israel's side of the Gaza border. The Israeli Air Force continued its strike of the Hamas ruled Gaza Strip for a third consecutive day, killing 307 Palestinians in the air raids, as Israel prepared to launch a possible invasion.
In this image taken from APTN video young men carry a badly injured man on a stretcher to an awaiting vehicle after Israeli aircraft struck Hamas security compounds across Gaza in Gaza City on Saturday Dec. 27, 2008. Hamas and medics reported that dozens of people were killed and that others were still buried under the rubble. The strikes caused widespread panic and confusion, as black clouds of smoke rose above Gaza. (AP Photo/APTN)
Palestinian prisoners flee over the rubble of the central security headquarters and prison, known as the Saraya, after it was hit during an Israeli missile strike, in Gaza City, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2008. Some 280 Palestinians have been killed and 600 people wounded since Israel's campaign to quash rocket barrages from Gaza began midday Saturday, a Gaza health official said. Most of the dead were Hamas police. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Palestinians carry the body of a Palestinian killed in an Israeli missile strike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes demolished dozens of Hamas security compounds across Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of simultaneous air strikes. Gaza medics said more than 120 people were killed and more than 250 wounded. (AP Photo/Hatem Omar)
Palestinians gather at the site of a security compound used by the Islamic group Hamas following an Israeli missile strike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes demolished dozens of Hamas security compounds across Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of simultaneous air strikes. Gaza medics said more than 120 people were killed and more than 250 wounded.(AP Photo/Hatem Omar)
Palestinians carry the body of a Palestinan from the rubble following an Israeli missile strike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008.Israeli warplanes demolished dozens of Hamas security compounds across Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of simultaneous air strikes. Gaza medics said more than 120 people were killed and more than 250 wounded.(AP Photo/Hatem Omar)
A Palestinian girl wounded in an Israeli missile strike is carried into the emergency area at Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes retaliating for rocket fire from Gaza pounded dozens of security compounds across the Hamas-ruled territory in unprecedented waves of air strikes Saturday, killing at least 155 and wounding more than 310 in the bloodiest day in Gaza in decades. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
A Palestinian man wounded in an Israeli missile strike is carried into the emergency area at Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes demolished dozens of Hamas security compounds across Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of simultaneous air strikes. Gaza medics said more than 120 people were killed and more than 250 wounded.(AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
An Israeli police officer inspects damage to a house that was hit by a rocket fired by Palestinian militants in Gaza which killed a man in the southern Israeli town of Netivot near Gaza, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes retaliating for rocket fire from the Gaza Strip pounded dozens of security compounds across the Hamas-ruled territory in unprecedented waves of airstrikes Saturday, killing more than 200 people and wounding nearly 400 in the single bloodiest day of fighting in years. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
An injured Palestinian security force officer from Hamas crawls as he waits for assistance at the site of an Israeli missile strike at the security headquarters in Gaza City, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes retaliating for rocket fire from the Gaza Strip pounded dozens of security compounds across the Hamas-ruled territory in unprecedented waves of airstrikes Saturday, killing more than 200 people and wounding nearly 400 in the single bloodiest day of fighting in years. (AP Photo/Thaer Al-Hasani)
Palestinians throw rocks at Israeli soldiers during a protest against Israeli strikes in Gaza in the Jerusalem neighborhood of A-tur, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes retaliating for rocket fire from Gaza pounded dozens of security compounds across the Hamas-ruled territory in unprecedented waves of air strikes Saturday, killing at least 155 and wounding more than 310 in the bloodiest day in Gaza in decades. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)
An Israeli soldier prays on top of a tank at a staging area near the Sufa Crossing just outside the southern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2008. Gazans cowered in their homes Sunday as Israeli warplanes pressing one of Israel's deadliest assaults ever on Palestinian militants unleashed missiles on weapons warehouses, a police station, the homes of militant field commanders and dozens of other targets across the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.More than 270 Palestinians, most of them militants, have been killed and more than 600 people wounded since Israel's campaign to quash rocket barrages from Gaza began midday Saturday.(AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
Israeli police officers scuffle with Israeli left wing activists during a protest against the Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes retaliating for rocket fire from the Gaza Strip pounded dozens of security compounds across the Hamas-ruled territory in unprecedented waves of airstrikes Saturday, killing more than 200 people and wounding nearly 400 in the single bloodiest day of fighting in years. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
A Palestinian family rushes from the scene of an Israeli missile strike on a building in the Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2008. Gazans cowered in their homes Sunday as Israeli warplanes pressing one of Israel's deadliest assaults ever on Palestinian militants unleashed missiles on weapons warehouses, a police station, the homes of militant field commanders and dozens of other targets across the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.More than 270 Palestinians, most of them militants, have been killed and more than 600 people wounded since Israel's campaign to quash rocket barrages from Gaza began midday Saturday. (AP Photo/MaanImages, Hatem Omar)
A bulldozer tries to push sand on a fire after an Israeli missile strike on a building in the Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2008. Gazans covered in their homes Sunday as Israeli warplanes pressing one of Israel's deadliest assaults ever on Palestinian militants unleashed missiles on weapons warehouses, a police station, the homes of militant field commanders and dozens of other targets across the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. (AP Photo/Hatem Omar,MaanImages)
Palestinians gather at the scene of an Israeli missile strike on a building in the Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2008. Gazans cowered in their homes Sunday as Israeli warplanes pressing one of Israel's deadliest assaults ever on Palestinian militants unleashed missiles on weapons warehouses, a police station, the homes of militant field commanders and dozens of other targets across the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. More than 270 Palestinians _ most of them militants _ have been killed and more than 600 people wounded since Israel's campaign to quash rocket barrages from Gaza began midday Saturday.(AP Photo/Hatem Omar,MaanImages)
Palestinian firefighters try to extinguish fire at a burning building after an Israeli missile strike in the Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2008. Israeli warplanes pressing one of Israel's deadliest assaults ever on Palestinian militants dropped bombs and missiles on a top security installation and dozens of other targets across Hamas-ruled Gaza on Sunday. Israel's Cabinet authorized a callup of at least 6,500 reserve soldiers, suggesting plans to expand an offensive against Gaza rocket squads that has already killed some 280 Palestinians. (AP Photo/Eyad Baba)
An injured Palestinian prisoner is helped as he and others flee through the rubble of the central security headquarters and prison, known as the Saraya, after it was hit in an Israeli missile strike in in Gaza City, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2008. More than 270 Palestinians have been killed and more than 600 people wounded since Israel's campaign to quash rocket barrages from Gaza began midday Saturday.(AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Israeli hospital patients and their families wait in a bomb shelter in Ashkelon Barzily hospital, southern Israel, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes retaliating for rocket fire from the Gaza Strip pounded dozens of security compounds across the Hamas-ruled territory in unprecedented waves of airstrikes Saturday, killing more than 200 people and wounding nearly 400 in the single bloodiest day of fighting in years. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
Palestinians gather in the crater of an Israeli missile strike on a building used by the Islamic group Hamas in Gaza City, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2008. More than 270 Palestinians, have been killed and more than 600 people wounded since Israel's campaign to quash rocket barrages from Gaza began midday Saturday. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Israeli Arabs and left wing activists wave Palestinians flags during a protest against the Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes retaliating for rocket fire from the Gaza Strip pounded dozens of security compounds across the Hamas-ruled territory in unprecedented waves of airstrikes Saturday, killing more than 200 people and wounding nearly 400 in the single bloodiest day of fighting in years. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
A Palestinian woman cries during a protest in Damascus, Syria on Saturday Dec. 27, 2008 against an Israeli raid on Gaza that killed some 145 Palestinians. Israeli warplanes attacked dozens of security compounds across Hamas-ruled Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of air strikes. Gaza medics said at least 145 people were killed and more than 310 wounded in the single deadliest day in Gaza fighting in recent memory. (AP Photo/Bassem Tellawi)
Hundreds of Hamas supporters protest in Damascus, Syria on Saturday Dec. 27, 2008 against an Israeli raid on Gaza that killed some 145 Palestinians. Israeli warplanes attacked dozens of security compounds across Hamas-ruled Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of air strikes. Gaza medics said at least 145 people were killed and more than 310 wounded in the single deadliest day in Gaza fighting in recent memory. (AP Photo Bassem/ Tellawi)
A Palestinian man gives an Hamas Islamic symbol during a protest in Damascus, Syria on Saturday Dec. 27, 2008 against an Israeli raid on Gaza that killed some 145 Palestinians. Israeli warplanes attacked dozens of security compounds across Hamas-ruled Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of air strikes. Gaza medics said at least 145 people were killed and more than 310 wounded in the single deadliest day in Gaza fighting in recent memory. (AP Photo/ Bassem Tellawi)
A Palestinian women and supporter of Hamas accompanied by a child are seen during a protest in Damascus, Syria on Saturday Dec. 27, 2008 against an Israeli raid on Gaza that killed some 145 Palestinians. Israeli warplanes attacked dozens of security compounds across Hamas-ruled Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of air strikes. Gaza medics said at least 145 people were killed and more than 310 wounded in the single deadliest day in Gaza fighting in recent memory. (AP Photo/ Bassem Tellawi).
Smoke rises from Israeli missile strikes in the northern Gaza Strip as seen from the Israeli community of Netiv Hasara, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli aircraft struck Hamas security compounds across Gaza on Saturday in an unprecedented series of simultaneous strikes. Hamas and medics reported that dozens of people were killed and that others were still buried under the rubble. Health Ministry official Moawiya Hassanain said at least 120 people were killed. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
A Palestinian security force officer carries a wounded girl into the emergency room at Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes retaliating for rocket fire from Gaza pounded dozens of security compounds across the Hamas-ruled territory in unprecedented waves of air strikes Saturday, killing at least 155 and wounding more than 310 in the bloodiest day in Gaza in decades.(AP Photo/Majed Hamdan)
Israeli soldiers fire rubber bullets and throw stun grenades at Palestinian demonstrators during clashes following a demonstration against the Israeli missiles strike on Gaza, at the Kalandia checkpoint between the West Bank city of Ramallah and Jerusalem on Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes retaliating for rocket fire from Gaza pounded dozens of security compounds across the Hamas-ruled territory in unprecedented waves of air strikes Saturday, killing at least 155 and wounding more than 310 in the bloodiest day in Gaza in decades. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
Smoke rises over Gaza City, following an Israeli air strike at the Palestinian police headquarters in Gaza City, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes retaliating for rocket fire from Gaza pounded dozens of security compounds across the Hamas-ruled territory in unprecedented waves of air strikes Saturday, killing at least 155 and wounding more than 310 in the bloodiest day in Gaza in decades. (AP Photo/Ashraf Amra)
Palestinian women run away during clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians, following a demonstration against the Israeli missiles strike on Gaza, at the Kalandia checkpoint between the West Bank city of Ramallah and Jerusalem Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes attacked dozens of security compounds across Hamas-ruled Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of air strikes. Gaza medics said at least 145 people were killed and more than 310 wounded in the single deadliest day in Gaza fighting in recent memory. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
A Palestinian man wounded in an Israeli missile strike is carried into the emergency area at Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes demolished dozens of Hamas security compounds across Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of simultaneous air strikes. Gaza medics said more than 120 people were killed and more than 250 wounded.(AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
Palestinians wounded in Israeli missile strikes are seen in the emergency area at Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes demolished dozens of Hamas security compounds across Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of simultaneous air strikes. Gaza medics said at least 145 people were killed and more than 310 wounded in the single deadliest day in Gaza fighting in recent memory. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Palestinians gather at the site of a security compound used by the Islamic group Hamas following an Israeli missile strike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes demolished dozens of Hamas security compounds across Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of simultaneous air strikes. Gaza medics said more than 120 people were killed and more than 250 wounded.(AP Photo/Hatem Omar)
Palestinians run for cover following an Israeli missile strike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes demolished dozens of Hamas security compounds across Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of simultaneous air strikes. Gaza medics said more than 120 people were killed and more than 250 wounded.(AP Photo/Hatem Omar)
Palestinian children and a man wounded in Israeli missile strikes are seen in the emergency area at Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes demolished dozens of Hamas security compounds across Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of simultaneous air strikes. Gaza medics said at least 145 people were killed and more than 310 wounded in the single deadliest day in Gaza fighting in recent memory. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Palestinian relatives of security force officers of the Islamic group Hamas react after seeing their bodies at Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes retaliating for rocket fire from Gaza pounded dozens of security compounds across the Hamas-ruled territory in unprecedented waves of air strikes Saturday, killing at least 155 and wounding more than 310 in the bloodiest day in Gaza in decades.(AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Israeli soldiers run away to avoid a stun grenade thrown by another soldier by mistake during clashes with Palestinians, following a demonstration against the Israeli missiles strike on Gaza, at the Kalandia checkpoint between the West Bank city of Ramallah and Jerusalem Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes attacked dozens of security compounds across Hamas-ruled Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of air strikes. Gaza medics said at least 145 people were killed and more than 310 wounded in the single deadliest day in Gaza fighting in recent memory. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
Palestinian firefighters try to assist at the site of a security compound used by the Islamic group Hamas following an Israeli missile strike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes demolished dozens of Hamas security compounds across Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of simultaneous air strikes. Gaza medics said more than 120 people were killed and more than 250 wounded.(AP Photo/Hatem Omar)
In this image taken from APTN video, Palestinian men carry two injured children into hospital after Israeli aircraft struck Hamas security compounds across Gaza in Gaza City on Saturday Dec. 27, 2008. Hamas and medics reported that dozens of people were killed and that others were still buried under the rubble. The strikes caused widespread panic and confusion, as black clouds of smoke rose above Gaza. (AP Photo/APTN)
In this image taken from APTN video young men carry a badly injured man on a stretcher to an awaiting vehicle as debris lies in the road after Israeli aircraft struck Hamas security compounds across Gaza in Gaza City on Saturday Dec. 27, 2008. Hamas and medics reported that dozens of people were killed and that others were still buried under the rubble. The strikes caused widespread panic and confusion, as black clouds of smoke rose above Gaza. (AP Photo/APTN)
In this image taken from APTN video men stand outside a destroyed police station after Israeli aircraft struck Hamas security compounds across Gaza in Gaza City on Saturday Dec. 27, 2008. Hamas and medics reported that dozens of people were killed and that others were still buried under the rubble. The strikes caused widespread panic and confusion, as black clouds of smoke rose above Gaza. (AP Photo/APTN)
An explosion from an Israeli missile strike in the northern Gaza Strip as seen from the Israeli community of Netiv Hasara, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes demolished dozens of Hamas security compounds across Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of simultaneous air strikes. Gaza medics said at least 145 people were killed and more than 310 wounded in the single deadliest day in Gaza fighting in recent memory. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
A Palestinian demonstrator dressed as Santa Claus uses a sling-shot to hurl stones at Israeli border police during a demonstration against Israel's separation barrier in the West Bank village of Bilin near Ramallah, Friday, Dec. 26, 2008. Israel says the barrier is necessary for security while Palestinians call it a land grab.(AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)

The rebuilding of Gaza after the Israeli bombardment already faces unique problems and is likely to be the most difficult reconstruction project in the world.

This is because of the sheer scale of the devastation, the economic siege of the Palestinian enclave by Israel and Egypt, and the attempt to exclude Hamas, the elected rulers of Gaza, from any role in the rebuilding.

The difficulties are all the greater because of the destruction of much of the tunnel system linking Gaza to Egypt. Israeli and European leaders talk of the tunnel system – by one estimate there are 1,100 of them – as if it was exclusively devoted to supplying weapons and ammunition to Hamas. In reality, "the tunnel economy" has been the way in which food, fuel and everything else has reached Gaza since Israel and Egypt sealed off the Strip 18 months ago, when Hamas drove out the rival Palestinian faction Fatah in 2007. Military supplies were always a very small part of Gaza's imports through the tunnels.

"Everything from Viagra to diesel entered Gaza through the tunnels," said one source. At one point before the Israeli attack, the price of petrol went down in Gaza because a pipeline had been threaded through one of the tunnels, all of which are privately dug and owned. Cooking-gas bottles are in short supply because they previously came in through tunnels that are now closed.

"I know middle-class families in Gaza cutting up their furniture to build fires so they can cook their food," said an aid official yesterday. Spare parts are desperately needed for generators.

The Palestinian tunnels and the Israeli-Egyptian border closure were two issues at the centre of the war and their future is still unresolved.

Until Gaza has continual access to the outside world, any real reconstruction will be impossible. A senior EU official said no aid would be spent rebuilding buildings and infrastructure while Hamas remained in control.

Israel says that it will have withdrawn all its troops from the Gaza Strip by the time Barack Obama is inaugurated today. A first priority forthe UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) will be to bring in foodstuffs and medicines and rebuild its supply system stretching from the Israeli port of Ashdod to the Gaza Strip. Then it will try to restore the electricity, water and sewage systems wrecked by Israeli bombs and shells. Amnesty International yesterday accused Israel of war crimes, saying its use of white phosphorus munitions in densely populated areas of Gaza was indiscriminate and illegal.

UNRWA will probably carry out the preliminary assessment of damage and initial repairs because Israel, Egypt, the US and the Europeans are boycotting Hamas, although UNRWA is nervous of acting as a substitute government of Gaza. One Palestinian estimate suggests that the cost of rebuilding will be $1.4bn (£970m). Saudi Arabia has already pledged $1bn but promises on aid are seldom kept in full.

Rebuilding will take place in a 139-square-mile enclave that is packed with 1.5 million Palestinians, of whom 70 per cent are from refugee families expelled from Israel during the creation of the state. More than a million are already receiving UN food supplies.

The initial assessment is that 20,000 homes lived in by 120,000 people have been somewhat damaged and can be patched up so they are habitable again. The 4,000 homes that have been destroyed cannot be rebuilt because Israel is refusing to let construction materials cross the border into Gaza.

Israel, the US and their European allies are eager to prevent Hamas taking charge of reconstruction because this might add to its political standing among Palestinians. They recall that after the Israeli attack on Lebanon in 2006, many Lebanese at first blamed Hizbollah for provoking the assault. But Hizbollah took charge of rebuilding and Iran reportedly gave $14,000 to every family which had lost its home, money that was channelled to grateful recipients through Hizbollah.

The major potential donors for Gaza will try to get aid distributed through the Palestinian Authority of President Mahmoud Abbas. But he is, if anything, more discredited in the eyes of Palestinians and the Arab world as an Israeli and American stooge than he was before war in Gaza. Hamas, which won the heavily-monitored Palestinian election of 2006, will not want to dilute its power but there will be international pressure on Palestinians to form a government that is acceptable to donors.

If Gaza is to be restored even to the miserable condition it was in before 27 December, then the economic siege has to be lifted. But Israeli leaders like the Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, and the Defence Minister, Ehud Barak have claimed success in the war. If the blockade is raised, then Hamas will say it won the war – and the election of Benjamin Netanyahu as the next Prime Minister of Israel in the election on 10 February will become even more certain.

So were there any winners or losers?

What was Hamas's aim? Rocket attacks intended to force Israel to end blockade that has trapped 1.5m Palestinians inside Gaza Strip since Hamas takeover. Hamas also seeking recognition by West

What happened? Security arrangements are to be imposed on Hamas and no ceasefire agreement has been signed with the Islamists

Did they succeed? No.

What was Israel's aim? Gaza offensive launched to "teach Hamas a lesson". Some Israeli politicians called for overthrow of Hamas, while contenders in next month's election sought improved ratings

What happened? The majority of the estimated 20,000 Hamas fighters escaped with their lives. Hamas rockets were still being fired at the end of Israeli offensive when Israel declared unilateral ceasefire

Did they succeed? No.

What was Egypt's aim? To secure end to offensive through ceasefire agreement leading to truce, border security, reopening of crossings, Israeli troop withdrawal and Palestinian reconciliation

What happened? US negotiated separate deal with Israel on arms smuggling. Hamas set its own truce conditions and refused reconciliation with Fatah. Egyptian mediation deepened split between moderate Arab states and others

Did they succeed? No.

What was the EU's aim? To profit from power vacuum in US and play lead negotiating role. To map out road to peace and promise support for Palestinian leadership afterwards

What happened? Plethora of negotiators undermined EU credibility as did the incompetence of Czech EU presidency

Did they succeed? No.

Source: Independent

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