Following Israel’s 11-day bombardment of the Gaza Strip this past month, the besieged coastal enclave is once again staring down a long road to reconstruction. It does so even as the territory remains under Israeli blockade, the people living there are facing urgent humanitarian needs, and there continues to be no existing or emerging political/diplomatic path to change the underlying status quo – a status quo that contains in it the seeds for the next round of violence and destruction.
FMEP’s Lara Friedman was joined by Tania Hary (Gisha) and Issam Younis (Al Mezan Center for Human Rights) to discuss what Gaza truly needs, and how the political agendas of international donors and Israeli restrictions have, in the past, sabotaged efforts not only to restore, but also to meaningfully improve, life in the Gaza Strip.
Tania Hary is the executive director of Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, an Israeli human rights organization which promotes the right to movement in the Palestinian territory, especially Gaza. Leading Israel’s only organization focused on Gaza, Tania is relied upon as a source of information and analysis on the situation in the Strip both at home and abroad. She appeared before the Security Council in 2015 and 2019. Prior to joining Gisha in 2007, Tania worked on advocacy initiatives for not-for-profit organizations promoting human rights and development. She received her B.A. in modern literature at the University of California, Santa Cruz and an M.A. in international affairs from the New School in New York. Tania was born in Haifa, raised in Los Angeles and now resides in Tel Aviv-Jaffa.
Issam Younis is the Director of Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights in Gaza. He is the Commissioner General of The Palestinian Independent Commission for Hunan Rights (ICHR). He is the president of the Arab Network of National Human Rights Institutions (ANNHRI). He is also a member of the Palestinian Higher Education Council, and a Policy Advisor for Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network.
Lara Friedman is the President of the Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP). With more than 25 years working in the Middle East foreign policy arena, Lara is a leading authority on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, with particular expertise on the Israeli-Arab conflict, Israeli settlements, Jerusalem, and the role of the U.S. Congress. She is published widely in the U.S. and international press and is regularly consulted by members of Congress and their staffs, by Washington-based diplomats, by policy-makers in capitals around the world, and by journalists in the U.S. and abroad. In addition to her work at FMEP, Lara is a Contributing Writer at Jewish Currents and a non-resident fellow at the U.S./Middle East Project (USMEP). Prior to joining FMEP, Lara was the Director of Policy and Government Relations at Americans for Peace Now, and before that she was a U.S. Foreign Service Officer, serving in Jerusalem, Washington, Tunis and Beirut. She holds a B.A. from the University of Arizona and a Master’s degree from Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service; in addition to English, Lara speaks French, Arabic, Spanish, (weak) Italian, and muddles through in Hebrew.
Follow our experts – and their organizations – on Twitter:
- Tania Hary – @taniahary – https://twitter.com/taniahary
- Issam Younis – @Issam_Younis
On the current conditions in Gaza:
- For an overview of the damage in Gaza, see this report (PDF) by OCHA
- “The toll of Israeli strikes on Gaza: Mapping the destruction left behind” (Washington Post, June 2021)
- Al-Mezan reports on conditions in Gaza:
- “Rising summer temperatures are making matters worse in Gaza” (Al Shabaka, June 2021)
- “A new mental health crisis is raging in Gaza” (Middle East Monitor)
- “After unending conflicts, Gazans wrestle with rebuilding — and whether it’s worth it” (Washington Post)
- “Area G: From Separation to Annexation” (Gisha)
- “The Permit Regime: Controlling Demography and Fragmenting Geography” by Issam Younis
- “Israel continues to ban exit of goods from Gaza. Cancer patients exit in first since May 11” (Gisha, June 2021)
- The case of Palestinian cancer patients being blocked by Israel from accessing treatment outside of Gaza was covered by the Washington Post, “Cancer patients, other ill Gazans await Israel’s permission to leave for treatments“
The Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism:
- “Q&A: Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism” (Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights, September 2016)
- The GRM actual has its own website, run by the United Nations: https://grm.report/
- “Normalizing the Siege: The ‘Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism’ and the Contradictions of Humanitarianism and Reconstruction” by Pietro Stefanini (POMEPS)
- To see how the government of Israel frames the GRM, check out: https://www.gov.il/en/departments/units/grm_unit
- “Still in ruins: Reviving the stalled reconstruction of Gaza” by Sultan Barakat and Firas Masri (Brookings, August 2017)
- “Still Treading Water: Reviewing six years of the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism and the dire water situation in the Gaza Strip” (OxFam, March 2021)
- “The Gaza Reconstruction Process Must Not be Politicized” by Omar Shaban (Pal Think, June 2021)
- “Hamas, PA compete for Gaza reconstruction” – by Al-Monitor
- “Israel said to ask Egypt to halt entry of cement, building materials into Gaza” (The Times of Israel)
- “Egypt eyes Gaza reconstruction to boost regional clout” (Al Araby)
- “Blinken announces US aid to Gaza, says Hamas won’t benefit” (Al-Monitor)
- Mezan report: “United States Policy on Palestine: 2021 and Beyond”