UNICEF denies Palestinian claims that Israel won tenders to rebuild Gaza

Palestinian Contractors Union forbids members to collaborate with Israelis

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

Palestinians clear the rubble of a destroyed house in Gaza in 2009 (photo credit: Wissam Nassar flash90)
Palestinians clear the rubble of a destroyed house in Gaza in 2009 (photo credit: Wissam Nassar flash90)

The Palestinian contractors union claims that a number of Israeli companies have recently won UN tenders for reconstruction projects in the Gaza Strip, a claim denied by UNICEF.

More than three years after Israel inflicted widespread damage on the infrastructure of the Gaza Strip during Operation Cast Lead, an offensive aimed at curtailing relentless Hamas rocket fire into Israel, two Israeli companies won bids issued by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to construct water plants in Gaza, London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported Thursday.

Osama Kahil, deputy head of the Palestinian Contractors Union, told the daily that a number of Israeli companies have contacted contractors in Gaza offering them half of the bids’ revenue to execute the projects.

“It is unreasonable for the Israeli occupation to be rewarded for its destruction of Gaza’s economy,” Kahil told Al-Quds Al-Arabi. “It waged a relentless war on our livelihood, and now our markets are being opened to its companies.”

But Catherine Weibel, a spokesperson for UNICEF, denied the daily’s claim, saying that no company – Israeli or otherwise – has been contracted to build new desalination plants in Gaza, since the project is still in its early stages.

“The priority and policy of UNICEF office in the occupied Palestinian territory is to purchase goods and services from qualified Palestinian manufacturers, authorized dealers and companies,” said Jean Gough, UNICEF Special Representative in the occupied Palestinian territory. “We only buy from other providers when goods are not available.”

Kahil said his union sent letters to all contractors in Gaza, warning them against cooperation with Israeli companies.

“A sense of morality and patriotism will not allow anyone to cross these red lines,” he said. The Palestinian Engineers Association also declared that it would “legally and nationally pursue” members who work with Israel.

The Palestinian Authority announced previously that it would cost $2.8 billion to reconstruct Gaza.


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