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Report: Rebuilding Gaza to cost $7.8 billion

Sept. 4, 2014 10:27 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 6, 2014 7:21 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The reconstruction of the Gaza Strip will cost $7.8 billion, Palestinian experts said in a report Thursday, as the Palestinian labor minister said 100,000 jobs could be created in Gaza if Israel held to its promise to end its siege within the month.

The Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction, a Palestinian Authority body that oversees the implementation of donor-financed projects, said the process would take "five years if Israel removed its blockade over Gaza entirely."

Direct losses were estimated at $4.4 billion, while a budget of $3.02 billion was set for the development needs of the Gaza Strip which include a seaport and a water desalination plant.

The 200-page document set a strategy to relief the people of Gaza and link that to the sustainable development that will help reduce unemployment and poverty.

The document recommended that for the rebuilding to run smoothly several conditions should be met, including completely lifting the eight-year old Israeli siege and allowing freedom of movement.

Since 2006, Gaza has been subject to a joint Israeli-Egyptian blockade that severely limits all imports and exports, including the entry of construction materials.

Israeli promised to ease these restrictions in a ceasefire recently signed in Cairo, but no such materials have yet been let in through Gaza's border crossings with Israel.

The besieged coastal enclave, home to 1.8 million people and bordered by Israel and Egypt, was ravaged between July 8 and August 26 in its third war in six years.

The Israeli assault cost the lives of more than 2,150 Gazans, destroyed thousands of homes, severely damaged the enclave's sole power plant, and burnt dozens of factories.

The document said over 60,000 housing units were damaged including 20,000 left uninhabitable causing losses of $1.38 billion.

But the 1.8 million-2.2 million tonnes of debris estimated to have resulted from the destruction of buildings could also be used to help rebuild and possible expand the territory into the sea, according to the report by 13 Palestinian experts.

The losses of the education sector were estimated at $55 million, the health sector at $90 million, the energy sector at $54 million, the economic sector at $200 million, the agricultural sector at $250 million, the culture and tourism sector at $20 million each, the community sector at $30 million, and infrastructure at $180 million.

The report estimated the indirect losses caused by the assault at $2 billion.

A conference of international donors for the reconstruction of Gaza is set to take place later in the month in either Egypt or Norway.

'100,000 jobs'

Minister of Labor Mamoun Abu Shahla said on Thursday that the opening of all crossings into Gaza for just one month could provide over 100,000 jobs for Palestinians in Gaza.

Abu Shahla said that the government will be able to provide job opportunities once the crossings are opened, but if Israel failed to lift the siege the situation in the enclave -- where he said poverty has reached 55 percent -- would stay the same.

"In 15 to 20 years, the construction will be done if 100 trucks enter Kerem Shalom (crossing) daily," he said.

"This is unacceptable and irrational. We demand that Ban Ki Moon and international organizations play their role in rebuilding Gaza in a short period," adding that the crossings must be opened completely to allow Palestinians to rebuild.

Abu Shahla told Ma'an that of the more than 450,000 forced out of their homes during the offensive, 58,000 remain in school shelters after their homes were destroyed.

He said the government is trying to provide 10,000 motor homes equipped with water and electricity to place beside destroyed houses during reconstruction.

Abu Shahla added that 15-20 camps with 500 housing units each will be built.

AFP contributed to this report.
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