Cement Intended for Gaza Reconstruction Ends Up on Black Market
A Palestinian journalist has tweeted an image of cement imported into Gaza under the auspices of the UN being sold on the black market.
Hours after 600 tons of cement arrived in Gaza, as part of the reconstruction project following the summer 2014 war between Israel and Hamas, Palestinian journalist Hazem Balousha shared the image.
Much of the cement imported into Gaza in the past was diverted by Hamas to build underground tunnels to aid in the terrorist offensive against Israeli targets. Concern that reconstruction materials arriving now will again be used for similar purposes remains high in Israel.
Popular blogger Elder of Ziyon noted today that the “other big news in the Palestinian Arab press is that the Ministry of Finance in Gaza, controlled by Hamas, has started taxing every ton of cement a fee of 20 shekels. The PA denounced the move but there are reports that customs agents in Gaza are imposing the tax, and as a result the shipments of cement today have been suspended as a result.”
Later on, Elder clarified: “Hamas has apparently relented and stopped imposing the tax after complaints.” But, he added, “The Gaza Ministry of Housing is apparently in charge of which citizens can get the cement and construction materials, and they have published a list of nearly 6000 homeowners who qualify. This sure seems like a system that is ripe for corruption and diversion of the materials.”
Palestinian leaders have complained that Israel is allowing cement in at a rate which means that the reconstruction of Gaza will take thirty years to complete. The Palestinian Authority Housing Minister, Mufeed al-Hasayna, told Newsweek this week that “Gaza needs 8,000 tonnes of cement a day to meet demand. A new system set up with the United Nations to comply with Israeli requirements lets through at most 2,000.”
Al-Hasayna did not discuss the issue of the black market trade in cement, nor its use by Hamas to aid terrorist operations.