Hamas is opposed to UN involvement in the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip following Operation Protective Edge and has requested that the Palestinian unity government, rather than the international organization, carry out building projects, a Hamas official said late Sunday night.
Deputy head of Hamas’s political bureau Moussa Abu Marzouk claimed that Hamas was never shown the “Serry plan,” named for United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry, insisting that reconstruction work estimated at billions of dollars remain in Palestinian hands.
“A number of officials have claimed that Abu Marzouk agreed to the plan, which is a bald-faced lie, so I say the following: during the indirect negotiations in Cairo we rejected the UN as a recognized party to construction,” Abu Marzouk wrote on his Facebook page, referring to the Egyptian-mediated ceasefire talks between Israel and Hamas in August. “Everyone insisted that the Palestinian Authority, through the national unity government, is to be responsible for construction.”
“The international envoy’s plan was never presented to us,” he added.
Donor states have pledged $5.4 billion on October 12 for the reconstruction of Gaza and to boost the budget of the Palestinian government. According to a fact sheet published by Serry’s office, the Palestinian government is responsible for the repair of damaged homes as well as large-scale private and public sector projects. The UN will continue building schools, clinics and “supporting the provision of basic utilities” as it did prior to the Israeli operation. All construction materials needed are to be registered by the Palestinian ministry of civil affairs and approved by Israel.
Palestinian officials have informed The Times of Israel that the UN has nearly completed its oversight mechanism for materials entering the Gaza Strip. The mechanism will employ hundreds of local and foreign workers, and will allow the UN to hire overseas companies to help in the supervision. The PA, for its part, has compiled a list of dozens of Gaza contractors authorized to receive the materials. Cameras have been installed in their business to closely monitor all transactions.
“If implemented in good faith, this mechanism represents an important step towards the objective of lifting all remaining closures, and a signal of hope to the people of Gaza,” the UN document stated.
But given Hamas’s opposition to the entire UN involvement, good faith seems unlikely.
The Islamic movement has repeatedly criticized UN activities in the Gaza Strip, blasting UNRWA for its human rights curriculum in UN-run schools. Gaza-based Hamas official Mahmoud Al-Zahar called UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon a “political hypocrite” for condemning Hamas’s terror tunnels during a trip to the region in mid-October.
Serry’s office was not available for comment at time of publication.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian ministry of civil affairs told Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam Monday that Israel has agreed to significantly increase the quantity of building material permitted to enter the Gaza Strip starting next week. An unnamed source in the ministry said that Israel will double the quantity of cement entering Gaza compared to the quantity that entered on October 14, supplying local brick factories.
Israel on Sunday closed the two border crossings into Gaza, including Kerem Shalom, through which construction materials entered the Strip, in response to rocket fire from the territory into Israel on Friday.
Avi Issacharoff contributed to this report.