Photo Credit: Abed Rahim Khatib / Flash 90
A truck transporting construction materials into the Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom crossing.

Israeli envoy Tzachi Hanegbi attended an emergency meeting of international donor states on Wednesday in Brussels to present a $1 billion plan to rebuild Gaza from the ground up.

The economic and humanitarian crisis in the region is deepening due to the incessant redirection by Hamas of any resources entering Gaza towards military infrastructure dedicated towards the conflict with Israel, rather than towards investment in the civilian investment and rebuilding for which they were intended.

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The meeting, called in response to the worsening situation in Gaza and the potential cut in aid to the Palestinian Authority by the United States, was chaired by Norway’s Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide and European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

Israel offered to provide technology and knowledge for the host of projects necessary to create new infrastructure for the enclave, such as: a new desalination plant, installation of a new high-voltage power line to enable Israel to double its supply of electricity to Gaza, a natural gas pipeline to the region from Israel, a new sewage treatment plant and a landfill. Upgrading the Erez industrial park on the Israel-Gaza border is also part of the plan.

Funding and materials are required for all the projects in addition to the technology and know-how on to put them all together. Israel can and is willing to provide the latter but expects the international community to do the rest.

Hanegbi, a Minister for Regional Cooperation, represented Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the conference, which he attended with IDF Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the coordinator of government activities in the territories (COGAT).

Hanegbi said Gazans are “paying the price of Hamas’ extremism.” He also underlined the refusal of the ruling terrorist organization to return the bodies of fallen IDF officers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul to their parents in Israel, and the two living Israeli civilians who are still being held hostage as well – Avraham Abera Mengistu and Hisham A-Sayed – both of whom suffer from mental health issues. Hanegbi pointed out that in all four cases, the refusal is a violation of international law.

U.S. Special Representative to International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt also attended the conference, as did Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, and the foreign ministers of Jordan, Morocco and Egypt as well as a number of other countries in the region.

Earlier this week, Israel has already started teaming up with international donors to supply power to Gaza’s sewage and water desalination facilities. A sewage treatment plant in northern Gaza expected to become fully operational within the next two months will have nine new high-capacity power generators supplied with funds from the World Bank and donor nations. A desalination plant in southern Gaza will be powered by Israel and is being funded by the European Union.

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