Aid agencies urge action to help Gaza

17 April 2015

CHRISTIAN AID/HEIDI LEVINE

Shelled: men examine a Gazan bomb site, at the end of last year 

Shelled: men examine a Gazan bomb site, at the end of last year 

AT A conference in Cairo six months ago, international donors pledged $3.5 billion (£2.5 billion) for the reconstruction of Gaza, after the conflict between Israel, Hamas, and other Palestinian groups. Only 26.8 per cent of the money has so far been released.

This is one of the findings of a paper published this week by the Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA), which comprises 45 organisations including Christian Aid, Oxfam, and Save the Children. AIDA said that "reconstruction and recovery have barely begun, and people in Gaza remain in dire straits."

AIDA urges governments around the world to "make good on the pledges made at the Cairo Conference, and move forward with reconstruction and recovery projects for Gaza". Given the devastation of the economy, "donor funding should wholly subsidise construction materials, prioritising the most vulnerable."

The international agencies said that last summer's war was the "third such major military operation in six years, further complicating recovery for a civilian population sealed off by a blockade, and separated economically, socially, and politically from Palestinians in the West Bank." Aside from the shortfall in promised financial donations, they said, "there has been no accountability to address violations of international law."

The AIDA paper suggests "an achievable course of action that, if implemented, could make significant progress in addressing the root causes of the recurrent conflict, and towards the realisation of a just, durable peace". The signatories outline what Israel, the international community, the Palestinian Authority, and Hamas must do to end the conflict and ensure that Palestinians in Gaza can realise their rights. The paper says: "It is time for these [political] actors to work together effectively to change the course for Gaza, before it is too late."

AIDA says that all parties should immediately resume negotiations for a long-term ceasefire that addresses the need for sustainable reconstruction, tackles the causes of the conflict, and can deliver lasting security for Israelis and Palestinians.

Both the government of Israel and Palestinian armed groups, including Hamas, must abide by international humanitarian and human-rights law in the conduct of hostilities, it says; and the international community must demand an end to violations of international law, and push for greater accountability of all parties.

The paper says that states should comply with their "third-state responsibilities not to aid or assist rights violations with respect to companies that contribute to such violations. This should include, where appropriate, adopting clear guidance to national companies, including state-owned companies, and pension and investment funds . . . to ensure that they do not support companies whose actions support violations of international law."

Furthermore, Palestinian polit-ical actors "must prioritise reconstruction as a humanitarian imperative. International donors should work with the Palestinian Government of National Consensus to take a holistic approach to reconstruction in Gaza."

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