Israel and the Palestinians have reached an agreement that will allow the start of reconstruction in battle-scarred Gaza, according to the UN envoy in the region Robert Serry.
In a UN Security Council debate Tuesday, Serry, who serves as the world body’s special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, said the Palestinian Authority would have a central role in the rehabilitation activities: It is to be in charge of ensuring that the construction materials sent into Gaza for reconstruction will not be diverted to Hamas’s military efforts.
The agreement on monitoring the supply of materials “must get up and running without delay,” said Serry.
The deal would allow private companies to move in to rebuild Gaza.
Israeli officials confirmed that Israel had acquiesced to a UN proposal to establish a mechanism for Gaza’s reconstruction under the auspices of the UN.
Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, who runs the IDF’s coordination with Palestinian authorities, said the mechanism would allow Gaza’s rehabilitation to go forward while securing the defense interests of Israel.
Israel has been concerned that cement and other materials could be used to rebuild Hamas’s attack tunnels, which were constructed to carry out terror strikes against Israelis.
Serry described the destruction in Gaza from the summer’s war between Israel and Hamas as “truly shocking,” with some 18,000 houses flattened or severely damaged, while 65,000 Palestinians remain in UN-run shelters and 100,000 are homeless.
He appealed for the reopening of crossing points to allow the delivery of materials and emphasized that quick action on reconstruction would provide a “signal of hope to the people of Gaza.”
Egypt is due to host a donor conference for Gaza reconstruction on October 12, supported by Norway.
“The crisis in Gaza is far from over and the window of opportunity to address critical needs and stabilize the situation is short,” Serry warned.
The envoy appealed for action to “change fundamentally the dynamics in Gaza,” warning that “if we do not, Gaza could implode — or, yet again, explode — possibly with a new and even more devastating round of violence.”
According to Israel Radio, the new UN oversight mechanism was coordinated by Serry, Mordechai and Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, and was approved by the Israeli government.