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Gaza Reconstruction Will Take 20 Years, Says Post-Conflict Housing Group

Over 17,000 housing units have been destroyed or severely damaged in Gaza during the seven-week conflict between Hamas and Israel.

by Liz Fields
Aug 30 2014, 3:40pm

Image via Getty

It will take 20 years for Gaza's housing to be rebuilt following the mass devastation caused by fighting between Hamas and Israel over the summer, according to a post-conflict housing reconstruction and assessment organization.

Shelter Cluster, which is co-chaired by the UN refugee agency and the Red Cross, released a report late Friday detailing its assessment of the Gaza Strip, which has been ravaged by airstrikes and ground incursions over the course of previous wars, as well as the latest round of fighting.

The coastal enclave, which is home to roughly 1.8 million people, could face a reconstruction bill of more than $6 billion according to estimates by Palestinian officials.

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This footage shows aerial views of the Gaza City neighborhood of Shujaiya after the recent conflict in Gaza. Shujaiya was a focal point of Israel's attacks, with one strike on a marketplace during a ceasefire killing at least 17 people.

Shelter Cluster's 20-year assessment is contingent on 100 trucks of construction materials being allowed to cross the main Israel-Gaza border crossing a day, necessitating a lift on the Israeli and Egyptian-imposed blockade on the strip.

Since the blockade went into effect in 2007, shortly after Hamas seized control there, Israel has tightly controlled the transport of building material into Gaza, fearing it will be used to construct the underground tunnels used by militants to launch cross-border attacks.

The group said that 17,000 housing units have been destroyed or severely damaged since fighting began in July. A further 5,000 homes are in need of repair following previous fighting, while a housing deficit of 75,000 units remains in Gaza.

Egypt and the international community have been working to broker a longer-term halt in hostilities between both sides.

On Tuesday, Palestinian officials announced they had entered into a deal with Israel on a "permanent" ceasefire after seven weeks of violence that has left more than 2,100 Palestinians, mostly civilians, dead. Israel has reported 71 deaths, including six civilians.

One of Hamas' key concerns in negotiating an open-ended ceasefire has been the permanent end to the seven-year blockade on Gaza. Skepticism remains on both sides whether the open-ended truce will hold.

Video Shows Apartment Block Demolished as Israeli Airstrikes Resume. Read more here.

Follow Liz Fields on Twitter: @lianzifields