In East Beit Hanoun yesterday, still roughly 2 km from the eastern border with Israel, we are surveying the destruction of water wells and cisterns, along with their motors –noting that new motors or parts are not available in Gaza, and that the rubble those wells within 1km of the border to Israel cannot be cleared due to a very real fear of Israeli shooting.
Alongside one of the hundreds of wells destroyed in Gaza, we see the Basiouni family re-building their flattened home. They are more fortunate than those over 4,000 whose homes were destroyed by Israeli bombing, intentionally-set explosions, and bulldozing.
The house being re-built is smaller than the original. But the fortune comes with the lovely stones, blocks of cement and tiles scaveged from demolished homes. Otherwise, to rebuild would be to import poor-quality, over-expensive, tunnel-delivered cement from Egypt, to build a shanty-style home of scrap metal and blocks, or to revert to building with mud, as some have in Gaza.
Aside from the obvious needs like cement, metals, glass, and wood, tiles are a luxury beyond imagination.
With 95% of Gaza’s industry destroyed by the siege and the Israeli massacre of Gaza, tile factories are among the reported 600 factories leveled by Israeli attacks. Thus tiles have become a rarity in Gaza. There is no cement to manufacture new tiles, and those that existed are mostly dust.
“We recovered these tiles from nearby structures. It’s all our extended families land. These tiles are old, strong. They are thick and good quality.”
Bassiouni is smiling, because while most Palestinians continue to struggle to exist and continue under the harshest of conditions, he has the advantage of building supplies.
These relaties are so familiar to me now, seeing homeless Palestinians daily, seeing mocking shells of houses daily, that I am surprised when a sympathetic, educated and concerned friend outside of Palestine doesn’t realize rebuilding isn’t happening in Gaza.
“…it is shocking what you write,” he said. “I did not know that concrete had to be smuggled in via tunnels. I assumed that the west somehow was involved in assuring some level of rebuilding of what has been demolished.”
In another other region, yes this would be true.
But this is Gaza, and somehow Palestinians do not deserve the same justice and respect that another nation would.