Guardian falsely claims that “almost no” construction materials have entered Gaza

Harriet Sherwood’s latest report, ‘Hamas bans Palestinian journalists from Israeli media cooperation‘ Dec. 27, took a detour from the issue indicated in the title in the penultimate paragraph.

Sherwood writes:

“Meanwhile, Israel is to allow construction materials to enter Gaza from next week for the first time since 2007. Despite easing its blockade of the enclave two and a half years ago, it has continued to ban the import of almost all construction materials, such as cement and steel, saying they could be used for military purposes.”

The first sentence is completely untrue.

The passage highlighted in the second sentence is, at best, extraordinarily misleading.

At the Kerem Shalom Crossing, every day, around 250-350 trucks bring goods into Gaza – food, electrical products, clothing, and construction materials.

Here’s a photo I took while on tour of Kerem Shalom in September, 2012.

In order to ensure that dual-use items (construction materials which could be used by Hamas and other terror groups to build fortified bunkers, military installations, etc.) COGAT (Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories) coordinates such shipments with international sponsors (US Aid, the World Bank, the UN, etc.) who can guarantee that the materials are used for their original civilian intent.

Since 2010 (the period Sherwood is referring to), out of 268 submitted construction proposals by the PA (in conjunction with international sponsors) 235 were approved.

Such projects include housing, schools, clinics, roads, agricultural installations and other civilian infrastructure.

According to COGAT, the only ones not implemented on the ground have been those in which the sponsor didn’t have the funds.

Here’s a breakdown of the material. (The numbers cited below represent the amount of construction materials, in tons.)


Here is a further breakdown of what has been built, or is in the process of being built, in Gaza with construction materials sent since 2010, quantified above.

  • 1900 housing units completed or underway
  • 14 health clinics completed or underway
  • 42 schools (new or renovated) completed or underway
  • 22 water and sewage projects
  • 10 new roads 


And, lets not forget the five-star hotel, the al-Mashtal, which opened in 2012 in Gaza – which Sherwood herself reported on.

guardianYou don’t need to be a building contractor to conclude that an awful lot of construction material was required for these luxury accommodations.

You can see a full list of construction projects in Gaza underway or already completed, here.

Such facts and figures regarding construction materials entering Gaza completely contradict Harriet Sherwood’s claim that all, or “almost all”, construction materials have been banned from entering Gaza over the last two years.

Please consider sending a respectful email to the Guardian’s readers editor requesting a correction to Sherwood’s story.

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