Gaza reconstruction to cost $7.8 billion
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.