It has now been 59 days since the Israel Defense Force and Hamas announced a ceasefire to the seven week long conflict on August 26. According to figures from the Palestinian Health Ministry dated 9 October 2014, the conflict has left thousands dead and over ten thousand civilians injured; more than three thousand of those being children. According to Palestinian authorities, the damage caused during the Israeli offensive will cost Gaza approximately $7.8 billion to rebuild.
Norwegian foreign minister Borge Brende, who co-chaired an international Gaza donor conference held in Egypt, announced that various donors have pledged $5.4 billion to help rebuild the Gaza Strip (since when? the end of the ceasefire?). In a media statement released on 10 October 2014, International Relations and Co-operation Department Spokesperson Clayson Monyela announced that South Africa had also pledged $1 million through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees.
Although Palestinians took to the streets of Gaza in jubilant celebration a day after the ceasefire came into effect, there remains a lot to be done to rebuild the Gaza Strip.
Live Magazine got the opportunity to discuss the Gaza aftermath after the Israeli forces’s invasion which they termed Operation Protective Edge with Gazan resident and dance instructor Ahmed Alghraiz. Alghraiz is one of the survivors of the incursion by the Israeli Defense Force into Gaza who also runs a dance center for young people in the basement of his house. Alghraiz’s dance center also provides shelter to nine displaced families.
Alghraiz admits that although there have been efforts to help from some members of the international community, it is not enough. “We still have people living in tents, hospitals, and schools, we are living like dead people and nobody cares, ” says a dissatisfied Alghraiz.
During our international phone call, Alghraiz expressed his contempt at the international media and accused the United States media in particular for being biased in its reporting of the conflict. ”Most of the international media has appeared to be in support of Israel, the United States television has been distributing propaganda and bullsh*t making it seem as if we are the ones in the wrong,” he says angrily.
In an irate tone, he adds, “We are also human beings like other people, we deserve our freedom. We deserve peace, we are not terrorists.” Alghraiz also expressed his heartache and despair at the loss of his cousin during the Israeli invasion, whom he considered his “childhood best friend.”
Before the long term ceasefire came into effect, Hamas had demanded that the only way a ceasefire would be agreed upon on was if Israel agreed to the re-opening of the Yasser Arafat airport and the building of a seaport. The airport was bombed by a Israeli Defense Force aircraft in 2000 during the Al-Aqsa Intafada. With a harsh tone in his voice Alghraiz exclaims, “Israel has not built us our airport and seaports, they have done nothing.”
The conflict between Israel and Palestine dates back as far as the mid-20th century. The conflict persists to this day because both parties refuse to recognize each other as sovereign states. “There is no such thing called Israel, they came from where they came from and stole our land, we do not want peace, all we want is our land back,” Alghraiz says irritably.
The ceasefire negotiated by Egypt between Israel and Gaza is still in effect with the most recent developments being the United Nations-supervised project to rebuild Gaza, which is currently underway. Like Alghraiz, officials in Gaza remain doubtful that these projects are going to bring immediate aid and relief to the people of the Gaza Strip.
For more background on the Gaza conflict – read my feature article here.
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