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First cement home since Gaza war unveiled

May 11, 2010 6:13 P.M. (Updated: May 13, 2010 9:48 A.M.)
Gaza – Ma’an – The de facto government in Gaza "will defeat the siege," officials said at the opening of a new cement apartment complex in the Jabaliya neighborhood of the northern Strip.

The building, constructed out of materials banned from entry by Israel, was only one of several development initiatives the de facto government has planned, officials said, calling all the efforts Hamas' will to break Israel's siege.

Deputy Prime Minister in Gaza Ziad Thatha attended the ceremony, officiated by the Ministry of Public Works, saying, "The government will defeat the siege through major accomplishments towards reconstruction of what the Zionist war machine has destroyed."

Minister of Public Works Yousif Al-Mansi explained the three tiers of development initiatives going on in the area, "The first stage of reconstruction has been completed," he said, noting that it included the registration of material losses from Israel's Operation Cast Lead, which destroyed thousands of buildings, many of them totaled.

In conjunction with Gaza’s municipalities, neighborhood committees and the union of engineers, officials computerized the data under a project with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Al-Mansi explained.

The second stage of the development projects, the minister continued, was the massive task of cleaning the destruction from the war. "More than 90% of the wreckage has been cleared," he said, noting that much of the scrap was being reused to construct projects like the Gaza City Port, re-paving roads and general construction.

The actual repairs - stage three - are being done in conjunction with international aid agencies, and include the construction of 381 homes and the repair of 263 others, Al-Mansi said.

Other families have been assisted financially to rebuild their own homes, with a total of 33 million US dollars distributed to families who suffered damages due to the war.

Since 2007, Israel tightened an already strict import policy for Gaza, turning a blockade into a siege, which has lasted three years. Items permitted into the Strip are reportedly limited to 81 items, as court documents from an ongoing trial lead by Israeli rights group Gisha revealed last week.

In the state's reply to Gisha's request for information, Israel wrote that the siege was "a central pillar in the armed conflict with Hamas."
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