Gaza's Missing Money

US media coverage of the Middle East is awash in vagueness – I’m looking at two headlines this year, “Palestinian Said to Be Killed by Israeli Soldiers” and “Palestinian Driver Suspected of Deliberately Hitting Jerusalem Bus Stop.”

On top of the vagueness, there’s the imbalance. As the US Campaign to End the Occupation reported this April, a single rocket from Gaza into Israel this year, outweighed six Israeli incursions and 67 attacks on the strip in the same three months.

You could be forgiven for thinking it’s by design that certain facts get lost in the morass. But how about $5.4 billion dollars?

That’s how much countries around the world pledged last year for what State Department officials described as “life-saving humanitarian assistance to help meet emergency needs in Gaza” after Israel’s 50 day onslaught last summer.

Between early July and August 26th last year, the conflict killed more than 2,100 Palestinians mostly civilians, and 73 Israelis, mostly soldiers, and left some 18,000 homes and vital infrastructure in ruins.

Which is what the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) says they are still: ruins.

“Not a single home has been rebuilt” UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness reported on April 23.

To date, he said, the UN agency has received funding to reconstruct just 200 of the 9,161 houses that need to be rebuilt. Israel’s ongoing economic siege, which keeps most building supplies out, doesn’t help. Still, those billions could make the difference.

In addressing donor nations last October, Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, called Gaza a tinderbox.” “People need to see results in their daily lives” he stressed. They haven’t.

Budget crunchers love to crunch the numbers on government spending. How about crunching a bit on non-spending in Gaza before another hot summer starts?