Home News The unsustainable cost of the destruction of Gaza – Amira Hass

The unsustainable cost of the destruction of Gaza – Amira Hass

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May 26, 2021 1:17 pm

Direct material damage to infrastructure and buildings in the Gaza Strip, as of May 19, is estimated at approximately $ 250 million. Of this figure, provided by the head of the Hamas information office, Salameh Maaruf, about 92 million dollars refer to damage caused to residential buildings and offices of various non-governmental organizations in the Strip.

Gaza’s electricity grid was also hit, causing damage of $ 22 million as of May 18. As a result, the electricity supply has been reduced to three or four hours a day due to the now unserviceable infrastructure. In Gaza, the operators of neighborhood generators, which supply electricity to the inhabitants at high prices, have announced a limitation of the service due to the shortage of fuel.

On May 18, five hundred million liters of fuel were introduced into the Gaza Strip via the Rafah crossing on the border with Egypt. This allowed Gaza’s power plants to remain active, albeit at a slower rate than before the war, when they provided eight hours of electricity, followed by eight hours of service interruption.

Dwindling electricity supplies have severely limited Gaza’s water system. More than 95 percent of the water extracted from the groundwater of the territory is not drinkable and must be purified and desalinated by electricity-powered machinery, and the same goes for sewage and distribution pumps. According to the UN office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs, the Palestinian Water Authority has announced that, due to the shutdown or restrictions imposed on water, sanitation and cleaning facilities, water supplies have decreased by more than 40 percent.

The situation only got worse after May 17, when the water pipes and sewers serving more than 140,000 people in the Khan Yunis area and the central part of the Strip were hit by aerial bombardments. In all, ten thousand meters of sewers and drinking and waste water pipes, some means used for draining the sewers, wells and a wastewater pumping station were damaged.

The Al Nahda bookshop and publishing house, a pharmacy and the central office of the Al Amal orphanage institute were completely demolished

Due to the lack of electricity, three major desalination plants, which provide services to more than four hundred thousand people, have shut down. More than 100,000 cubic meters of untreated or partially treated wastewater were poured into the sea every day. In all, around 800,000 people do not have regular access to water.

As of May 18, according to Maaruf, 1,335 housing units had either been destroyed in the bombing of Israel or damaged so badly that they were uninhabitable. According to the United Nations, the displaced Gazans – who have had their homes destroyed or have abandoned them due to intense bombing – are 75,000. About 47,000 of them found shelter in the schools of the United Nations Relief and Development Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), and the rest found accommodation with relatives or friends.

The Israeli attacks severely damaged fifty public schools and educational facilities

About 12,800 housing units were partially damaged. Hundreds of private and NGO offices were severely damaged and 33 newspaper offices completely demolished. As of 19 May, the total number of totally demolished or severely damaged structures was 184, of which 18 were bombed on 18 and 19 May. One of the badly damaged buildings belonged to the Qatar Red Crescent, housed in the Al Shawwa building in central Gaza city, which was attacked on May 17. A bank was also severely damaged in the same building.

The attacks also inflicted serious damage on some nearby buildings, including the Al Rimal clinic, which housed the main laboratory for testing covid-19 which, as a result, has stopped working. In the bombing of a five-story building on May 18, the Al Nahda bookshop and publishing house, a pharmacy and the central office of the Al Amal orphanage institute were completely demolished.

Maaruf said the damage caused by the destruction of government buildings is estimated at $ 23 million. According to him, Israel bombed 74 Hamas government offices and other public buildings, such as municipal buildings, police stations and security structures. The Israeli attacks severely damaged fifty public schools and educational facilities, as well as an UNRWA vocational training center and two kindergartens. According to information provided by the United Nations, six hospitals and eleven clinics were damaged. A hospital has not been in operation since May 15 because it is deprived of electricity.

Agriculture and suspended trade
After one of the airstrikes on the morning of May 15, the Doctors Without Borders injury and burn clinic had to close due to structural damage and because the access road had been destroyed. Three mosques have been completely destroyed since the start of the war. And forty other mosques and a church suffered severe damage. A five-story building owned by Muslim religious foundations waqf was badly damaged. The estimated cost of damage to religious structures is five million dollars.

Gaza’s agricultural sector suffered $ 24 million in damage to crops, livestock and irrigation systems hit by the bombings, according to preliminary estimates by the Hamas Ministry of Agriculture. Farmers and ranchers in the Gaza Strip avoided going out to work their land due to the attacks, especially after some of them were killed.

The hostilities caused forty million dollars in damage to Gaza’s trade and industry. Some factories were directly hit by the Israeli army bombings. On May 22, an Israeli artillery attack on Beit Lahia hit the offices of the Al Khdeir brothers’ import / export company and the Al Mudawar pharmaceutical company. The buildings, which housed large quantities of agricultural and plastic materials, caught fire. That same day, another artillery attack destroyed a family tailoring workshop in the village of Shokka, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.

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The value of all government and private vehicles destroyed, wholly or partially, is estimated to exceed $ 5.5 million. Damage to communications and internet lines is estimated at around $ 5.6 million.

Damage to roads, water and sewage systems is estimated to be around $ 27 million until May 19. Important road arteries were blocked by the rubble of the bombed roads, which prevented the arrival of food supplies, medical teams and other emergency services, which had to travel longer roads or even could not reach their destinations. Such a situation further put people’s lives at risk, as rescue, medical or fire brigade teams were called upon to pull people out of the rubble or put out fires.

(Translation by Federico Ferrone)

This article appeared in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

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