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EU delegation meets with PA to discuss Gaza reconstruction

Nov. 18, 2015 9:34 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 19, 2015 2:20 P.M.)
GAZA (Ma’an) -- Palestinian Authority officials on Wednesday met with the European Union's delegation to the West Bank and Gaza Strip to discuss Gaza's reconstruction effort, the Minister of Public Works and Housing said.

Mufid al-Hasayna said the PA asked EU countries "to keep their promises” concerning Gaza's reconstruction following Israel's 2014 Gaza offensive.

The delegation met with the PA following a trip into Gaza earlier that morning.

While the reconstruction effort has been ongoing, there have been numerous obstacles including financial restraints and physical logistics.

“Ninety percent of the partially damaged homes are almost done with their reconstruction, but we are waiting for the financial support to finish the rest," al-Hasayna told Ma’an.

Al-Hasayna noted that one of the major challenges to the reconstruction process was getting construction materials into the Strip, due to Israel's ongoing siege on the enclave.

According to al-Hasayna, Gaza needs at least 7,000 tons of construction materials to complete the rebuild.

In addition to housing reconstruction, al-Hasayna said Gaza's water crisis was also discussed.

In May, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that reconstruction since Israel's 2014 Gaza offensive has been significantly lower than expected, while the World Bank reported that the strip was facing a "dangerous fiscal crisis."

Over 2,200 Palestinians were killed in the offensive, which caused severe damage to housing and infrastructure.

Unemployment in Gaza increased in 2014 "to reach 44 percent -- probably the highest in the world," the World Bank reported.

"Gaza's unemployment and poverty figures are very troubling and the economic outlook is worrying," the World Bank quoted Palestinian territories director Steen Lau Jorgensen as saying in a statement.

The UN has repeatedly warned of further conflict in the area if the reconstruction process continues at such slow pace, emphasizing that Gaza's humanitarian crisis is worsened by Israel's continued blockade on the strip.

Israel severely limits the amount of building materials allowed into Gaza as part of its blockade, which is supported in the south by Egypt.

Critics of the blockade have called for it to be fully lifted to allow reconstruction, warning that an ongoing humanitarian crisis could fuel further conflict.
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