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Volume 589: debated on Wednesday 17 December 2014

Given that unemployment is at over 40%, nearly 60% of people have no secure access to food and three quarters have no access to safe water, 19,000 people still reside in United Nations Relief and Works Agency shelters, and 100,000 have been rendered homeless, the situation is dire.

Am I right in thinking that in October the Minister at the donor conference said that a return to the status quo in Gaza was not an option? According to the latest Oxfam report, however, the number of truck-loads going in with essential materials to do the rebuilding he talks about is now less after the summer’s conflict than before. Is Israel in breach of UN resolution 1860 on Gaza access, and if so what will the Government do about it?

The Gaza reconstruction mechanism, in which we have invested heavily, had a faltering start and only 46 truck-loads were delivered in October. We are now up to 302 as of the beginning of this month. It is not good enough, and we are working for more, but it is the only game in town.

The situation in Gaza is of course made more dire by the actions of Hamas, which misappropriates hundreds of thousands of tonnes of concrete and uses it to construct 32 terror and murder tunnels. Can the Minister tell me what he is doing to ensure that Hamas does not similarly misappropriate aid that should be going towards ordinary Gazans?

We contributed £500,000 to the implementation of the mechanism, and the Australians have paid for the software, in order to ensure, by agreement with the Israeli Government, the Palestinian Authority and the UN, that no building materials would be misappropriated.