The international communitys response to the May incursions was strong in words and weak on action. Still, near universal condemnation of the destruction from governments and organizations probably helped limit the Israeli abuse.
World leaders and major organizations strongly criticized Israel for the destruction of homes, property, and infrastructure in May (See Appendix) as well as the unlawful killing of civilians. The most forceful international criticism was Security Council Resolution 1544, passed on May 19, after the killings at the demonstration in Tel al-Sultan (see Box 4). With a vote of 14-0, the council called on Israel to respect international humanitarian law and, in particular, its obligation not to undertake demolition of homes contrary to that law. The resolution also expressed grave concern regarding the humanitarian situation of Palestinians made homeless in the Rafah area.
The lone abstention came from the United States, but even this was an unusually forceful U.S. response to Israeli violations. In the past, the U.S. has repeatedly blocked Security Council resolutions critical of its ally in the Middle East. Prior to the Security Council vote, Secretary of State Colin Powell had said the U.S. opposed the kind of actions that they [the IDF] are taking in Rafah.279
Despite these strong positions, the U.S. government took no concrete steps to encourage Israels compliance with international humanitarian law. On May 19 Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of State Powell to explain the Rafah offensive. He told the press after the meetings that he did not hear the slightest criticism from his interlocutors.280
Most important, U.S. funding continued to flow to the countrys leading recipient of aid. The 2004 U.S. Foreign Appropriations Act allocated U.S. $2.15 billion to Israel for foreign military financing and U.S.$ 480 million for economic assistance, and none of this was placed in doubt. In 2003, the U.S. government also granted Israel U.S.$ 9 billion in loan guarantees to be dispersed over three years, part of which is intended to help defray debts from earlier guarantees. Some of the equipment Israel purchases with U.S. aid, like the Caterpillar D9 bulldozer, is used to commit the abuses described in this report.
The European Union is Israels largest trading partner, with 22 billion in commerce between them in 2002. E.U.-Israel trade takes place under the framework of the E.U.-Israel Association Agreement; Article 2 of the Agreement stipulates that relations shall be based on respect for human rights and democratic principles. Despite support in the European Parliament to suspend the Agreement due to Israels human rights record, there has been little concrete action in this direction.281
The Gaza Strip is heavily reliant on foreign aid, nearly U.S. $1 billion per year.282 In Rafah, many of the essential programs and infrastructure are either heavily supported or completely funded by outside sources, like the European Union, U.S. government, Arab Development Bank, World Bank, and United Nations. These governments and organizations fund schools, water works, health care facilities, and offices of the PNA.
They also fund reconstruction for much of the destruction caused by the IDF, some of it of facilities these governments and organizations had funded in the first place. In June 2003, the World Bank estimated the IDF had damaged or destroyed U.S.$ 150 million worth of donor-funded infrastructure in Gaza and the West Bank since September 2000,283 including the Gaza Airport, PNA police installations, and UNRWA schools.284 In January 2004, Israel paid compensation for damage to the contents of a WFP warehouse, the only known case of compensation for damage to donor-funded property.285
On May 31, UNRWA issued an appeal for U.S.$ 15.84 million for Rafah to provide emergency cash, food and housing assistance to the hundreds of families who have lost their homes, had a breadwinner killed or wounded, or who are in need of ongoing medical care.286 According to UNRWA, re-housing a family costs U.S.$ 20,000, and as of May 31 the agency had already spent U.S.$ 12,106,474 to provide accommodations for the displaced.287
As of August 29, UNRWA had built, was in the process of building, or had funding to build 430 dwelling units in Rafah, while projects for a further 1,464 units remained unfunded. The United Arab Emirates Red Crescent Society and the Saudi Committee for the Relief of the Palestinians have also pledged funds that could cover up to nine hundred units of this backlog, though details have yet to be finalized.288 The PNA Ministry of Housing, which is primarily responsible for Rafah residents who are not refugees from what is now Israel, has built fifty-nine new housing units and is working on twenty more; thirty of the completed units, however, remain empty due to their proximity to the IDF base in Rafiah Yam settlement.289 In the meantime, the number of new houses required continues to grow.
On August 11, the EC allocated 1.35 million specifically for victims of house demolitions in Rafah. The money is for temporary accommodations, cash assistance, shelter repairs, and key infrastructure, including the rehabilitation of water supply networks, sewage systems, and two schools, the EC said. Commenting on the decision, European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid Poul Nielson reminded Israel that these funds do not absolve the occupying power of its responsibilities to uphold international humanitarian law. He added: As reiterated by the European Union and the United Nations, house demolitions are disproportionate acts that contravene international humanitarian law, in particular the Fourth Geneva Convention, and show a reckless disregard for the lives of civilians.290 The next day, the Islamic Development Bank said it would pay U.S.$ 25 million for reconstruction.291
The U.S. government has authorized the use of up to U.S.$ 20 million from the U.S. Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Fund to allow UNRWA to assist Palestinian refugees in the West Bank and Gaza. The State Department said on July 29 that the contribution was in response to UNRWAs U.S. $193 million emergency appeal for 2004. USAID had fast-tracked U.S. $100,000 to a local contractor to repair Rafahs water and sewage pipes and to replace the transformer at the Jumset Jabil pumping station.292
While this funding is desperately needed, the UNRWA appeal contributed to a debate within the aid community about funding the reconstruction for which Israel is obliged to pay.
We are certainly prepared to continue our humanitarian assistance and to support the rebuilding of the infrastructure of those areas from which the Israel defense forces withdraw, said Chris Patten, European Commissioner for External Relations. But I have to say that this time I think we should seek certain guarantees from the Israeli defense forces that they will not destroy again what we build.293 According to press reports, the U.S. government had sought such assurances in 2003 after some USAID-funded water wells in Rafah were destroyed.294
 Robin Wright, Powell Denounces Israels Destruction of Palestinian Homes, Washington Post, May 17, 2004.
 USA Not Voiced Slightest Criticism Over Israeli Rafah Operation Minister, BBC Monitoring, Excerpt from report by Israel Radio, May 19, 2004.
 On April 10, 2002, the European Parliament passed a resolution calling upon the European Council to institute an arms embargo on Israel/OPT and to suspend the E.U.-Israel Association Agreement.
 Overall disbursements fell from U.S.$ 1.026 billion in 2002 to U.S. $898 million in 2003 a decline of twelve percent. However, if the Arab League donors are discounted, contributions from others (principally the U.S. and the E.U.) increased by about thirty percent. The same is true for types of assistance other than budget support; these increased by over twenty percent (World Bank, Disengagement, the Palestinian Economy, and the Settlements).
 World Bank, World Bank Report on Impact of Intifada, April-June 2003.
 House of Commons, International Development Committee, Development Assistance and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, January 15, 2004.
 UNRWA Launches $15.8 Million Crisis Appeal for Rafah, UNRWA Press Release, May 31, 2004.
 Email communication from Christer Nordahl, Deputy Chief of Operations (Gaza), UNRWA to Human Rights Watch, August 29, 2004.
 Rafah Humanitarian Needs Assessment; Email communication from Christer Nordahl, Deputy Chief of Operations (Gaza), UNRWA to Human Rights Watch, September 5, 2004.
 European Commission Press Release, Commission Provides a Further 1.35 Million in Aid for Victims of House Demolitions in Rafah (Gaza Strip) August 11, 2004.
 Islamic Bank to Pay 25 Million Dollars to Reconstruct Rafah, Xinhua, August 12, 2004.
 UNRWA and OCHA, Rafah Humanitarian Needs Assessment.
 Speech of Chris Patten, European Parliament Plenary Session, April 21, 2004.
 Justin Huggler, Israel Destroys US-built Wells, Independent, November 5, 2003
 Caterpillar Inc., Code of Worldwide Business Conduct, October 1, 2000.
 See the United Nations Norms on the Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with Regard to Human Rights, E/CN.4/Sub.2/2003/12/Rev.2 (2003).
 Letter from CAT CEO Jim Owns to Liat Weingart, Jewish Voice for Peace, August 22, 2003, as provided by the Stop Caterpillar Campaign. See http://www.catdestroyshomes.org/about/what.html, (accessed August 25, 2004).
 Letter from UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food Jean Ziegler to CAT CEO James Owens, May 28, 2004. Available at http://www.catdestroyshomes.org/UN%20High%20Commissioner%20Letter%20to%20Caterpillar.pdf, (accessed August 25, 2004).