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Gaza damage to cost 'several hundred million dollars'

Nov. 26, 2012 5:12 A.M. (Updated: Dec. 10, 2012 1:54 A.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The damage inflicted by Israel's bombardment of the Gaza Strip will cost hundreds of millions of dollars to rebuild, according to the first estimates after the eight-day conflict.

Gaza government spokesman Taher al-Nunu said Sunday that preliminary studies show direct damages of around $545 million and indirect losses of some $700 million.

Around 200 buildings were completely destroyed and 8,000 other damaged during the conflict, al-Nunu said.

Gaza economist Omar Shaban said his estimates put the losses at around $250 million, noting that international agencies had yet to begin their own damage assessments.

According to al-Nunu, the government has asked the minister of public works to expedite his full assessment of the losses in order to reach a final figure.

Shaban pointed out that rebuilding Gaza depends on current talks in Cairo over the implementation of the ceasefire deal.

"Will the crossings be opened? Where will materials come from? Will the ceasefire even hold? It is too early too tell," he told Ma'an on Monday.

The Egyptian-brokered agreement included a provision to ease crossings and the flow of goods into Gaza, with measures to be agreed in further talks.

Israel imposes a land and sea blockade on the coastal strip. The only crossing not controlled by Israel -- Egypt's Rafah terminal -- is not equipped for goods transfers and its development is restricted by international agreements.

Al-Nunu said a high-level delegation headed by Deputy Prime Minister Ziyad Thatha was dispatched to Cairo to discuss implementation of the ceasefire deal.

Representatives of Gaza and Israel's government will talk indirectly through Egyptian intelligence officials during their stay in Cairo, London-based newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat said Monday.
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