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The International Committee of the Red Cross on Thursday released an urgent request for money to help rehabilitate Gaza. The coastal enclave has 1.8 million people in dire need of basic provisions, and the U.S. is currently negotiating on how best to rebuild, without aiding Hamas. Nick Schifrin reports on the urgent need felt by so many in Gaza.
Today the International Committee of the Red Cross released an urgent request for money to help rehabilitate Gaza.
At the same time, Israel is rebuilding the damage caused by rockets fired from Gaza. The 1.8 million people there are in dire need of basic provisions, and the U.S. is currently negotiating on how best to rebuild, without aiding Hamas, which controls the Strip.
Nick Schifrin is back with that story.
For Alaa Shamaly, this rubble is deja vu. It's not the first time the independent journalist has picked through the remains of his family's home.
Alaa Shamaly (through translator):
I tried to move away from the eastern border, so that my family would be safe, but the occupation bombs everywhere and everyone.
In 2014, Israeli airstrikes destroyed his home along the Gaza-Israel border. So he moved further west. But, this may, his neighbor got a warning call from the Israeli military. Three minutes later, an Israeli missile destroyed their apartment building.
We, the adults, couldn't withstand the shock of losing our home. You can't find words to describe the feeling in dictionaries. Can you imagine how it was for the children, who were sleeping peacefully, and, in a moment, they became homeless?
His children include Dema (ph), 12, Obada (ph), 10, Salah (ph), 7, and Abed Alaa (ph), 5.
What is the price that Gaza has to pay so that the international community addresses these crimes and provides a safe environment for citizens?
But even before a safe environment, they need basic necessities. At this U.N. food distribution center, Palestinians wait in line for food. Before the 2021 war, 1.3 million of Gaza's 1.8 million residents were food-insecure.
Now the World Food Program estimates an additional 160,000 people don't know where they will get their next meal.
Moyen Makat works for the U.N. agency created to help Palestinian refugees. He says the need is vast, but his resources are scarce.
We are depending on the generator, because we have no electricity. So, you need to manage how to guarantee a source of electricity and to provide the services and assistance to such refugees who are in bad need to such assistance in such a difficult time.
The U.N. says more than 75,000 Gazans are homeless. Many seek shelter in U.N. schools or in tents where their homes once stood. And because of electricity shortages, three desalination plants suspended operations; 800,000 lack access to clean drinking water.
The U.N. says Gaza needs $95 million immediately for all basic needs. But Gaza's suffering began long before this conflict. Both Israel and Egypt maintain a blockade. Unemployment is near 50 percent. And Hamas is everywhere. Its military wing uses residential neighborhoods to fire rockets, some of which land in Gaza, as this reporter has witnessed.
Israel accuses Hamas of redirecting money earmarked for reconstruction, so it can indiscriminately target Israeli communities. This war, they fired an unprecedented number of rockets and caused an unprecedented amount of damage.
Gilad Erdan is Israel's ambassador to the U.S. and U.N.
Israel makes every effort to avoid civilian casualties. Hamas makes every effort to increase civilian casualties. Israel uses its missiles to protect its children. Hamas uses children to protect its missiles.
Last month, Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The U.S. vows that Gaza rehabilitation money won't go to Hamas' military wing.
And, today, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz requested $1 billion for Israeli defense during a meeting with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lyod Austin: The administration fully supports your country's right to defend itself against rockets, rocket attacks fired indiscriminately by Hamas and other Gaza-based militants against Israeli civilians.
But those politics are not Nesreen and Zaher Subah's focus. Their focus is their children's shock.
Nesreen Subah (through translator):
After our house was destroyed, the children were traumatized. They lost their toys, their school bags and books. We try to give them psychological support, so they do not feel afraid and stressed.
The U.N. says, from this war, 250,000 children need mental health services.
Eight-year-old Mohammad is old enough to remember everything.
Mohammad Subah (through translator):
My sister was the first person to tell me that our house was bombarded. She was crying. And then I started to cry too. Then the whole family started to cry. But I am telling the children all over the world, please do not be sad.
Mohammad hopes that ,however Gaza is reconstructed, it provides him the opportunity to reach for the stars, literally.
Mohammad Subah (through translator):
I would like to work and earn money, so that I can have a family and be comfortable. When I grow up, I want to be an astronaut, and I also would like to discover the planets.
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Nick Schifrin is the foreign affairs and defense correspondent for PBS NewsHour, based in Washington, D.C. He leads NewsHour's foreign reporting and has created week-long, in-depth series for NewsHour from China, Russia, Ukraine, Nigeria, Egypt, Kenya, Cuba, Mexico, and the Baltics. The PBS NewsHour series "Inside Putin's Russia" won a 2018 Peabody Award and the National Press Club's Edwin M. Hood Award for Diplomatic Correspondence. In November 2020, Schifrin received the American Academy of Diplomacy’s Arthur Ross Media Award for Distinguished Reporting and Analysis of Foreign Affairs.
Layla Quran is a general assignment producer for PBS NewsHour. She was previously a foreign affairs reporter and producer.
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