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PA minister says Gaza 'reconstruction to cost billions'

Aug. 18, 2014 1:07 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 19, 2014 10:39 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinian Minister of Economy Muhammad Mustafa said Monday that reconstruction of Gaza following Israel's month-long assault will cost billions of dollars.

The Palestinian ministry in Ramallah is currently estimating damages through the formation of a committee, which is due to release its report by the end of this week, Mustafa said.

Over 30,000 homes were damaged by Israeli airstrikes and shelling, with around 450,000 Palestinians displaced during the conflict.

The water distribution network in Gaza has suffered $34.4 million worth of damage as a result of the Israeli offensive, with over seven kilometers (4.3 miles) of sewage networks completely destroyed.

The Food and Agriculture Organization on Thursday warned that the Israeli assault on Gaza had caused extensive damage to the coastal enclave's agricultural sector and would have long-term consequences.

Mustafa explained that the PA is currently suffering from a $1.2 billion budget deficit as well as debts of over $4.2 billion.

Palestinian officials have estimated that they need up to $6 billion to fix hospitals, roads, schools, water facilities, and factories hit by shelling and bombing.

James Rawley, the UN's resident and humanitarian coordinator, warned last week that failure to lift the Israeli blockade could cause more conflict in Gaza in the future.

If the measures are not removed, "not only will we see very little in the way of reconstruction, but I am afraid that the conditions are in place for us to have another round of violence like we're seeing now."
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