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In 2010 news was that Israel was going to allow imports of building materials for international construction projects in Gaza.

The construction materials allowed in under international supervision include cement, iron, steel beams, steel cables, asphalt and lumber beams and boards more than two centimetres (one inch) thick, even though Israel said the latter could be used in tunnels dug to attack Israeli forces.

This policy (accompanied by detailed list of materials subject to it) was restated in a 2013 IDF document as:

Requests for special authorizations to transfer any of the listed restricted items to Gaza are possible and are coordinated by the Coordination and Liaison Administration (CLA) to Gaza. Dual-use items required for projects, approved by the Palestinian Authority, will be allowed to enter Gaza, subject to supervision by a recognized international organization.

How many such international construction projects did Israel effectively/implicitly allow in Gaza since then, by means of approving imports of construction materials for them?

(Yeah, they might have approved individual import batches, not the projects themselves, but I'm primarily interested in coalescing imports into the relevant projects. How many sacks of cement were allowed in isn't too illuminating for someone who's not a construction engineer etc. Still, if only primary [customs] sources exist on this (from that CLA etc.), then material quantities would be ultimately passable as an answer.)

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  • Specifics as well as wording of the question need to be improved; First, 20 15-story buildings are sometimes 1 project. So, 25 projects can sometimes be 1000s of apartments. 2nd, the title can give the impression that Israel provided the building permits for those projects.
    – Jacob3
    Nov 10, 2023 at 10:46
  • @Jacob3: regarding your 2nd point, the word 'effectively' was meant to convey that (that they don't approve projects per se.) As for your first point, I'm quite open to answers explaining that in detail, i.e. what such projects entailed. Nov 10, 2023 at 10:49
  • Managed to find details on one 2008 project -- "meant to replace a dilapidated plant in northern Gaza where sewage pools collapsed last year, killing five people". That predates the later framework. Nov 10, 2023 at 12:54
  • @Fizz While in theory it may be the Palestinian authority approving the projects and issuing permits, no construction project is allowed without it being reviewed and approved by the Israeli authorities. So in effect, it's the Israeli "permit" that matters.(That's why in Area C, Palestinians that have access to construction material, often build "unauthorised" constructions, that are then targeted by the Israelis for "violations").
    – sfxedit
    Nov 10, 2023 at 16:57

1 Answer 1

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According to the Projects in Gaza report by COGAT, 235 projects were approved by them during the period of 2010 - 2012 :

Over the past two years the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) has approved 235 internationally sponsored projects in conjunction with the Palestinian Authority. By and large these projects are related to building housing, schools, clinics, roads, agricultural installations and other civilian infrastructure. ... COGAT has approved 88% of the 268 project requests, and those that have been denied may be approved in the future, subject to some alterations in their plans (i.e. location) ... As of fall 2012, only 57% of projects have been, or are currently being executed. By and large this phenomenon has been attributed to a lack of funding.

Out of these 235 approved projects:

  • 17 projects were in Housing sector,
  • 17 projects were for Clinics,
  • 94 projects were in the Education sector,
  • 37 projects were under the Water and Sewage category,
  • 14 projects were for Roads,
  • 39 projects were for other Infrastructure and
  • 17 projects were in Agriculture.

The international sponsors for these projects included UNDP, UNRWA, USAID, JICA, KFW, Islamic Development Bank, AFC, World Bank etc.

These economic blockades and control increased tension between Israel and Palestine and lead to the 2014 Gaza War (Operation Protective Edge). The war increased international attention on Israel's blockades. The blockade on construction material was particularly criticised because an economy depends on infrastructure to be created for its development. To counter the criticism, Israel aimed at "rebranding" the construction material blockade as the "Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism (GRM)" by roping in the UN.

Since the establishment of the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism (GRM), and as of January 2017, over 6.5 million tons of construction materials have been transferred into the Gaza Strip. ... The GRM has also brought about the construction of public projects in the fields of medicine, infrastructure, education, economics, and others. These projects include constructing the residential neighborhood of "Sheikh Hamad" in Khan Yunis, paving and repairing roads, creating desalination plants and wastewater treatment plants, constructing new hospitals, community centers, stadiums, schools, and more. Some 189 public projects have been completed and approximately another 475 projects are in various stages of progress.

As per the GRM report, from 2014 till date, construction projects completed included:

  • 394 in the Housing sector (large scale residential buildings),
  • 143 under Water cateory (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene related facilities),
  • 181 Roads (trunk roads to small access),
  • 11 in the Energy sector (Electricity, gas and other energy facilities),
  • 79 in the Education sector (Schools, colleges and professional associations),
  • 30 in the Health sector (hospitals or other primary health care centres),
  • 9 in Agriculture (facilities to support agricultural activities),
  • 84 in Public Facilities (Municipal facilities such as mosques or public spaces) and
  • 42 in the private sector (Private, commercial buildings).

This is an example of how Israel still treats Palestinian territories like its colonies and denies them their sovereignty through various colonial era policies it has customised for its needs.

The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), under the Ministry of Defence, controls the administration of Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) by co-ordinating between the Government of israel, the IDF, International oranisations, diplomats and the Palestinian Authority. Since Gaza was vacated by the Israelis in 2005, The Coordination and Liaison Administration (CLA), headed by a Colonel and working under COGAT, was created for the indirect control of the Gaza strip - by means of blockades of goods that control what can be imported / exported into the Gaza strip. Thus, the CLA administers the Erez Crossing and the Kerem Shalom Crossing to dictate Palestinian movements and goods to and from the Gaza strip.

Construction material and equipments are some of the products that Israel largely denies to the private sector in the Gaza strip. Under its current policies, it only allows the import of construction materials through a list of approved vendors, and mostly for public projects backed by international organisations. Israeli governments tend to use these projects in propaganda at local and international critics by claiming that Israel allows these projects at risk to its security and that the construction activity substantially increase Palestinian GDP:

Israel’s expanded civilian policy contributed to Gaza’s 19% and 23% GDP growth in 2010 and 2011 respectively. The local economy improved, prices were lowered, orders for raw materials rather than finished products increased, and there have even been reports of exports via the tunnels.

But, the truth of course is more complex - The staggering economic cost of occupation: The Palestinian economy would be at least twice as large without Israeli occupation, UNCTAD report says.

References:

  1. Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territory, tantamount to ‘settler-colonialism’: UN expert

  2. Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories

  3. Coordination and Liaison Administration (CLA)

  4. Projects in Gaza 2010-2012 (PDF)

  5. Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism (GRM)

  6. GRM.report

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  • Pretty informative. Although given the extra/final commentary, I suspect you won't get a lot of upvotes. Nov 10, 2023 at 17:07
  • 1
    (cotd.) 200,000 innocent Palestinians to kill these 30,000 fighters? Even if you manage to restrict the collateral damage to 50,000, I can guarantee you that such an environment of no hope, economic poverty, oppression and hate in Gaza will only breed more terrorists. Hamas will reappear in another form and the cycle of violence will continue. We are just watching a foolish tragedy unfold as a new generation of Palestinians and Israelis learn to hate each other. (2/2)
    – sfxedit
    Nov 10, 2023 at 17:33
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    @dEmigOd How Israel subdues Egypt to block import of materials? With a bilateral agreement. The Rafah crossing is not a normal border Israel monitorizes everything that goes in or out the Rafah crossing form its nearby military base in the Sinai, and bombs it regularly. It is not as if Egypt could start sending explosive precursors and reinforced concrete slabs without Israel noticing, and Egypt is not risking yet another war with Israel because of Gaza.
    – Rekesoft
    Nov 13, 2023 at 9:20
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    @dEmigOd How many links do you want?
    – Rekesoft
    Nov 13, 2023 at 11:49
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    @dEmigOd So? Quoting the same Wikipedia article, "Even though passenger restrictions were loosened, the shipment into Gaza of goods remains blocked." AMA or no AMA, Israel still monitors everything that goes in or out of the RCP. Egypt has its own reasons for not allowing Gazans to flood its country, but if it's losing exports to Gaza it's at Israel request, not because they don't like making bussiness and are too tired of making money.
    – Rekesoft
    Nov 13, 2023 at 12:44

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