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`Most Cast Lead damage not repaired`
05/23/2010 10:43

UNDP: Small-scale repairs done using rubble, smuggled materials.

As an eight-ship `Freedom Flotilla` began to make its way from various Mediterranean ports toward Gaza Sunday morning, a UN agency said about three-quarters of the damage inflicted by Operation Cast Lead more than a year ago had not been repaired.

Israel continues to bar construction material from entering Hamas-ruled Gaza as part of an overall blockade of the territory.

The UN Development Program (UNDP) said in a report Sunday that Gazans have carried out small-scale repairs worth $173 million with recycled rubble or material smuggled through border tunnels.

The report said the international community had been largely sidelined in the reconstruction effort. The UN can do little because it refrains from buying smuggled goods.

Israel says it bans construction material to prevent it from being used by Hamas for military purposes. However, just last week, the IDF transferred over 14,000 tons of humanitarian aid to Gaza, including baby food, produce, wheat, meat, dairy products, hygiene products, clothing and shoes, in 637 trucks.

Eight `Freedom Flotilla` vessels headed for Gaza

Meanwhile on Sunday, three ships continued to make their way from Istanbul to the Gaza port in an attempt to break the Israeli naval blockade. Al-Jazeera reported that five passenger ships , also part of the `Freedom Flotilla,` were set to rendezvous with the three ships in international waters before sailing to Gaza. The three ships are carrying 600 pro-Palestinian activists and 10,000 tons of supplies intended to aid the population of Gaza.

John Ging, the head of the United Nation`s Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in the Gaza Strip, voiced support for the flotilla, urging the world to `send ships to the shores of Gaza.`

Israel, he said, `would not stop these vessels because the sea is open.`

`Many human rights organizations have been successful in previous similar steps, and proved that breaking the siege on Gaza is possible,` he continued.

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