Rebuilding Gaza

Gaza has to be rebuilt and rebuilt fast.  Too many people are suffering the loss of shelter and winter will be upon us faster than we expect.  But there is no way Israel can allow raw building supplies into Gaza with any semblance of control by the controlling Hamas ‘gang’.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) must be handed the responsibility and the tools to do the job.  UNRWA has certainly shown itself to be inept at everything in which it is involved, other than continuing the poverty of the Palestinian population it serves. A successful effort by Abu Abbas will change the complete dynamic of ‘who rules Gaza’ and open up doors for the future of the population.  It will also serve to show the local Palestinian population just how bad Hamas is as a governing body.

Rebuilding quickly will also limit the vacuum into which more violent and destructive Islamicist groups might enter.

But I certainly do not trust the corrupt PA.  Over the last 20 years, they have shown themselves to be almost as corrupt and exploitive of their own population as Hamas has been.  The current PA representatives ruling the Palestinian’s have all become wealthy and powerful at their own constituent’s expense.  And I as an Israeli, would never let PA completely control the rebuilding effort; they would most probably allow weapons and war material as a ‘payoff’ to Hamas so as to stop Hamas from harming the PA”s efforts.

So, how to help the Gazan’s utilizing the PA?

When I was a teenager, I travelled to Montreal, Canada for Expo ’67, something akin to a world’s fair.  One of the major attractions was a remarkable effort at affordable housing called ‘The Habitat’.  Habitat was the brainchild of Moshe Safdie, an architectural student at McGill University student/graduate.  He envisioned a modular system of pre-built concrete ‘units’ that could be moved to a location quickly and stacked, one on top of the other, in a variety of configurations, creating living units of various capacities.  At the time, it was hailed as a marvel of creative architecture and engineering that might solve many of the problems for housing in the future.  (Just Google “expo 67, Habitat for more information.)

Using pre-fabricated housing modules solves many of the most potentially problematic concerns of Israel, all of the donor nations who will provide financial support and materials, as well as creating incentives for the PA.

The PA can manufacture the modules, using concrete and steel provided by donor countries, under the watchful of eye of Israeli security officials.  The PA can employ local resident of the West Bank helping to alleviate their severe unemployment. Israel can supervise the construction on sight from a few meters distance, insuring no contraband and/or war material is ‘built in to the structures.  Israel and the PA, together, can transport the modules into Gaza where, together with local Gazan contractors, the modules can be ‘stacked’.  Local contractors, after having been trained by Israeli engineers, can then finish the job of installing plumbing and electrical elements.

UNRWA can observe the entire process.

In this manner, no sacks of concrete can ‘disappear’ into the labyrinth of Gaza to be used for unintended purposes.

The PA wins; it gets the credit for helping the Gazan Palestinian population.

Israel wins; it gets to insure no concrete is diverted to ‘other’ uses, inconsistent with the goal of rebuilding Gaza.

Gazan’s win; it gets shelter fast without ‘owing anything to Hamas.

Hamas doesn’t win. It is sidelined during this whole process and cannot divert the aid to its own nefarious purposes.

UNRWA can also be judged a winner if it stays out of everyone’s way. It can claim some kind of success in helping the Gazan’s rebuild.

A similar approach can be applied to building the water system, utilizing pre-fabricated concrete water and sewage pipes.  Again, no sacks of concrete can disappear into Hamas’ hands.

As to the piping necessary to build water systems in the pre-fabricated units, the quantities and lengths of pipe can be pre-determined by the engineers.  They can be pre-cut and delivered when required.  Their installation can be controlled and observed by PA and Israel.  No lengths of pipe will then be diverted for the local manufacture of rockets.  If a diversion of piping does take place, then the quantity will become known and remain limited.

It’s a win-win for everyone.

The same approach can be applied to the major infrastructure projects such as sewage plants, electrical plants and the like.

Something has to be done to rebuild Gaza.  It just has to be done ‘smart’.


About the Author
Alan Salmanson is a businessman, a lawyer, an entrepreneur, and a parent.