The world rebuilds it, Israelis destroy it - again and again and again
What's wrong with this picture?
Beit Hanoun's veteran bridge builder shrugged off his latest misfortune: the Israelis destroyed the main span into town three years ago. The European Union rebuilt it. And overnight the Israelis destroyed it again.I have a novel idea. Make Israelis pay for it.
"I'm sad but what can I do," said Wagih Elbity, the city's 59-year-old civil engineer, after an air strike jolted him out of bed on Tuesday morning and turned another of his beloved concrete bridges into a steaming mound of rubble and sewage.
Elbity said Beit Hanoun, a northern Gaza town of 20,000, would appeal again to the EU for funds to rebuild. But with the Hamas-led Palestinian government facing a Western aid boycott, he said: "This time, they cannot give us any money."
The air and ground offensive has also devastated Gaza's infrastructure, compounding Palestinian hardships and upsetting international donors who have poured millions of dollars into rebuilding it after earlier Israeli offensives.Israelis are allowed to kill women and children with impunity, but when it affects bankers' pockets the world takes a stand.* * *
Swedish, British and other envoys have stepped up pressure on Israel in recent days. Even the United States, Israel's staunchest ally, is complaining about strikes against bridges and power stations, some built with U.S. taxpayer money.
Since the bombing began on June 28, two of the largest donors to the Palestinians -- the European Union and Japan -- have seen several large projects destroyed or damaged. The Japanese government just launched a $19 million programme to rehabilitate and widen Gaza's Salahudeen Road, badly damaged by previous Israeli raids, when the Israelis bombed it again.Why not? As long as someone else picks up the tab.
Not even Washington has been spared. Gaza's main power plant, bombed on the first night of the offensive, was insured for up to $48 million by an arm of the U.S. government.
"This is frustrating," said Eliasson of Sweden, whose government provided two of the six electric transformers that were destroyed on June 28 -- at a cost of $1 million each.That's the whole plan. Reduce Palestinians to a slave race with no economy of their own and nowhere to turn for assistance.
"We are very concerned that installations we financed for the well-being of the people of Gaza are being wasted," he said.
Former Palestinian public works minister, Abdel-Rahman Hamad, said international reconstruction projects will have to be put on hold until Israel agrees not to strike them in future. [which they will never do]
"How do you convince donors to fund a bridge when the Israelis are going to just destroy it again?" asked Hamad as he peered through the gaping holes blasted in the Beit Hanoun bridge. "It is a waste of time and money."
With more than $300,000 in EU funding, the four-lane bridge was just two years old when it was bombed on Saturday.You can count on it.
But one lane survived. Early Tuesday morning, Israel finished the job with two missiles, witnesses said.
Now only one bridge remains standing in Beit Hanoun. "After two or three nights, maybe Israel will destroy this bridge too," Elbity said.