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News > Palestine

Reconstruction in Gaza Advances at Snail Pace

  • Ruins of buildings destroyed by Israeli bombing, 2022.

    Ruins of buildings destroyed by Israeli bombing, 2022. | Photo: Twitter/ @IMDibe

Published 8 September 2022
Opinion

The Gaza Strip, home to more than 2.3 million people, has suffered from difficult economic and living conditions since it came under the Israeli siege in 2007.

Ayman al-Rifi, a Gazan man who lost his home in the latest Israeli strikes in the Palestinian enclave, had to squeeze his nine children into a small house shared with other relatives. "My family and I miraculously escaped death," the 54-year-old man said, referring to the three-day conflict between the Israeli army and the Islamic Jihad movement (PIJ) in early August

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The Israeli missile attacks had killed nearly 50 Palestinians and wrecked the Palestine Tower, a high-rise residential in central Gaza City housing some PIJ commanders, where the al-Rfis had also taken home. Since then, 19 members of his extended family have lived together in the cramped space of two rooms. What's worse, due to the lack of international donations, he could not tell when the reconstruction in Gaza could gather pace.

In fact, the reconstruction of Gaza is taking place away from the Palestinian Authority, as the Hamas-run Ministry of Public Works and Housing in Gaza submits the required technical reports to donors such as Qatar and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), while these bodies disburse to the beneficiaries.

Meanwhile, the construction process faced many obstacles in smoothly moving forward due to the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip. The recent Israeli escalation in the Strip destroyed 25 housing units, made 80 others partially uninhabitable, and 1,908 damaged but habitable.

Naji Sarhan, the undersecretary of the Hamas-run ministry, said that the absence of donors is the most prominent challenge in the reconstruction process currently taking place compared to the reconstruction process that took place in 2014.

The official added that so far the reconstruction has been limited to smaller homes, and no pledges have been made for revamping the destroyed high-rises.

He stressed that other sectors, such as the industrial and agricultural sectors, in addition to the high-rises and residential compounds, have not made any progress due to the direct Israeli blockade and the lack of approval of the reconstruction process.

He estimated the cost of rebuilding the total damage during the previous wars on the Gaza Strip at US$1 billion, including US$230 million for the housing sector, and US$800 million to compensate those affected in the economic, industrial, and agricultural sectors.

The Gaza Strip, home to more than 2.3 million people, has suffered from difficult economic and living conditions since it came under the Israeli siege in 2007. As a result, the coastal enclave suffers from high rates of poverty and unemployment.

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