Israelis and Arabs have been fighting along the Gaza strip, on and off, for decades now. The remains of war from the wider Arab Israeli conflict that started after World War II and the Holocaust have been the subject of countless journalistic articles, some stating the strife is fueled by the US government which helps to undermine peace in the region. Despite numerous odds, and giving no heed to who caused or is fueling the ongoing turmoil, just two of women have created an inexpensive, environmentally friendly building material from the rubble of war, and they are about to go into mass production to help to rebuild the area.
These innovative women with engineering degrees are being called the Gaza Girls. Thousands of buildings in the area have been reduced to rubble, but by using the remains of war – the rubble itself – Majd Mashharawi and Rawan Abddllaht have created building blocks which will allow residents to rebuild their homes.
To this day, trying to rebuild Gaza is difficult since Israeli blockades make importing construction materials expensive, and time-consuming. In March 2015, UNRWA reported that “…9,061 Palestine refugee houses have been considered totally destroyed and 5,066 have suffered severe, 4,085 major and 120,333 minor damages. Also, to date, the Agency has only received funding to reconstruct 200 of the 9,061 houses totally destroyed.” The blockade has made timely reconstruction inordinately difficult.
The demand for construction materials in Gaza is now booming, with more than 40,000 bricks needed per day. The women had envisioned rebuilding the area in their University days but were not content using materials that had already been developed noting the weakness of those blocks for proper, long-standing construction.
The women named their bricks “Green Cake”. They use recycles ashes, a material Gaza lacks. The weight of the new brick is half of the current one commonly used in Gaza and its cost is 30% less, which gives the project a great potential for success. They are hoping their project will boom and expect that more than 18,000 houses are in need or rebuilding.
Liala Kloob, her unemployed husband and their six children sleep on cots in the Abu Assi School in a Gaza Strip refugee camp. She is not an atypical story. An additional hundred families sleep within the school’s walls.
If the women are successful, they will help to give hope and an abode to hundreds of thousands of homeless in the area, literally using the ruins of war to rebuild what has been destroyed.