War led destruction in Gaza is bringing in opportunity, however unsafe

RBO

Israel IsraelIn just a little over a decade, Gaza Strip has witnessed four catastrophic wars with Israel. As the territory is constantly in friction with Israel, it is left behind with limited jobs, less electricity and nil natural resources. All it has now in abundance is rubble – loads and loads of concrete rubble, bricks and debris all around. Local businesses have found a silver lining amidst this destruction.

Gaza is suffering from extreme chronic shortage of construction materials. As the region is now ‘rich’ in concrete rubble, local businesses have adopted recycling – the recycling industry in Gaza is blooming now. The budding recycling industry is providing job opportunities to some lucky individuals but it has raised some concerns at the same time over unsafe refurbished construction material.

Every collapsed building due to war in Gaza has a similar scene – workers can be seen separating twisted rebar iron from the debris, which is straightened out and re-used in construction of boundary walls, ground slabs, and other similar things. “It’s a lucrative business,” said Naji Sarhan, deputy housing minister in Gaza’s Hamas-led government. Noting the challenge of regulating the recycled material use, Sarhan said, “We are trying to control and correct the misuse of these materials.”

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Hamas, the ruling group in Gaza, and Israel have gone to war four times since Hamas group seized control of territory in 2007. The latest conflict between the two sides in May 2021 led to airstrikes from both warring sides and left thousands of buildings turned into rubble in Gaza by Israeli airstrikes. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has reportedly worked along with the local private sector in Gaza to remove about 2.5 million metric tons of rubble that was left from wars with Israel in 2009, 2012 and 2014. The 11 days long war with Israel in May has resulted into adding of an additional 270,000 tons of rubble, according to Gaza’s Housing Ministry.

Chronic shortage of construction material in Gaza is due to crippling blockade imposed on territory by Israel and Egypt. Tel Aviv says that restrictions are to prevent Hamas from diverting concrete, steel and other goods for military use. Though some imports have been permitted since 2014 under United Nations’ supervision, it is not sufficient to rebuild and repair thousands of homes and buildings.

UNDP has put tight restrictions on recycling of rubble citing how the recycled debris is unsafe for building. The UN organization has said it must be used only for road projects instead. “We do not recommend any of the rubble to be used for any reconstruction as such, because it is not a good quality material for reconstruction,” said Yvonne Helle, a UNDP spokeswoman.

The road projects provide a partial solution to the big issue of vast rubble in Gaza. A majority part of rubble makes its way into the private construction sector that is desperate amid material shortage.

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