Connect to share and comment

Billions promised, but Gazans still waiting

Four months on from the Israeli bombardment of Gaza, Palestinians have seen little of the money pledged for reconstruction.

Yet the people of Gaza quivered in their wintry tent encampments, waiting for the manure to be spread.

They’re still in the tents. Sweltering now with the onset of the long heat that runs from April until November in Gaza.

What happened to the cash?

After all, when the money was promised, diplomats claimed it would be easy enough to figure out a way to give the aid money without letting Hamas get its hands on it. That was important because the U.S. wouldn’t give a cent if it might end up paying for more missiles aimed at Israel. Last week a Florida congresswoman told Clinton the aid money was “a bailout for Hamas.”

Most Arab states were keen to back the Palestinian Authority, which is still engaged in a civil war with Hamas. No problem, diplomats said at the time, we can set up mechanisms to get around Hamas.

European diplomats and Jerusalem-based aid agencies tell GlobalPost that these claims turned out to be hot air. Basic humanitarian aid, such as food, gets through no problem. But the rest of the cash remains unused.

Diplomats are concerned that even if the aid doesn’t go directly to Hamas, the Islamic party which took over absolute control of Gaza two years ago might tax or divert the money — or simply steal it, as its militiamen did when they raided a U.N. food warehouse after the end of the fighting.