As of March 2016, 1.409 billion dollars has been donated to Gaza to assist in rebuilding the Strip. According to the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Unit, Gaza has a 41% unemployment rate overall and a 60% unemployment rate among college graduates. Hamas (the radical Islamic organization governing Gaza) policy has yet to stimulate economic growth despite a rise in international funds that entered the Strip in 2016.
While aid flows into Gaza, terror activities in the Strip have continued at a consistent rate. Since the end of the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict, terrorists from the Gaza Strip have fired 89 rockets. In 2016 alone, 13 of those rockets were launched from Gaza and hit Israeli territory. A sharp decline from the more than 4,500 rockets that Hamas directed at Israeli population centers in the last conflict, putting more than 70% of Israelis at risk.
In the last conflict, tens of thousands of Israelis along Israel’s southern border were also exposed to the threat of Hamas cross-border attack tunnels. The IDF (Zahal) discovered and destroyed 32 tunnels during the last operation. In 2016, Israel has already destroyed 2 cross-border tunnels discovered along its southern border.
According to IDF (Zahal) spokesman, Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, “these tunnels have one purpose: to attack Israel. Hamas is intentionally building them from within populated areas, jeopardizing the civilians in those areas.”
Hamas spends hundreds of thousands of dollars each month on tunnel infrastructure. Since this requires significant manpower; Hamas employs around 1,000 operatives to dig underground around the clock. With the focus being on increasing weapons arsenals and expanding the Hamas underground tunnel network, only 23% of Palestinian homes lost during the campaign have been reconstructed.
Each tunnel costs approximately 3 million dollars. In a recent New York Times article, 23-year-old Gazan, Akram, was quoted as saying that there is “a Gaza City under the ground, and we have nothing up here.”