In Gaza, a family wonders how to rebuild
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Yousef expects that the calm will hold beyond Sunday, when the week-long cease-fire that Israel and Hamas declared – independently of one another – effectively expires.Skip to next paragraph
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But part of Hamas's demand for holding its fire was that Israel would open all of the crossings into the Gaza Strip. That has not happened, but assistance has been flowing into Gaza in the past few days, both in the form of needed goods and an influx of aid workers.
On Friday, Israel opened the Erez crossing fully for the first time in about two months, allowing all international journalists and aid workers free access to Gaza. Other trucks carrying commercial goods and humanitarian assistance have been coming in through the Karni and Kerem Shalom crossings.
Still, thousands remained homeless or otherwise displaced. More than half a million residents of the Gaza Strip, about a third of the population, have no access to clean water, according to a report from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
By the end of the week, there were more than 18,000 people housed in about 30 shelters, down from 50,000 people at the height of the war. A study by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics found that about 4,000 residences were totally destroyed in the war, and another 17,000 buildings and housing units were partially destroyed. According to the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, some 90,000 Gazans were displaced as part of the war.
As aid trucks continued to enter Gaza from both Israel and Egypt, there were occasional reports of militants commandeering them. Armed men seized a Jordanian aid convoy after it entered the Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom crossing on Tuesday. UNRWA had expected to receive the convoy and unload it into its warehouses in Gaza, the Jordanian news agency Petra reported. Militants opened fire on the drivers and forced them to head to their own warehouses.
Jordanians were disappointed by the confiscation of the aid they had collected in support of Palestinian civilian victims of the war.
"There's no real government from what we see, and there are a lot of gangsters around, and they can take the aid meant for the people," says Tariq Masarweh, a columnist for Al Rai, a newspaper in Amman, Jordan.
"It's very unfortunate, because those things should go to poor people, to the refugees. We had collected aid from Syrian and Lebanese organizations as well and we were sending all of that aid to Gaza with our aid, because we're the only bridge for these countries to the Palestinians," Mr. Masarweh says.
Hamas may have suffered a severe blow as part of the military operation, but it will likely use this situation to gain popularity with average people, Masarweh said in an interview in Amman, particularly if it is able to spearhead post-war reconstruction.
"Similar to Hezbollah's war with Israel in 2006, this situation will give Hamas an opportunity to celebrate victory," he says.
Yousef, of Hamas, says the organization already views itself as triumphant. "We don't feel we've been defeated," Yousef said in a talk with a few visiting reporters in Rafah, where green Hamas flags few along the traffic divide. "We've shown that we will challenge the Israeli military might and survive."