GAZA CITY: Delayed reconstruction efforts in Gaza have frustrated residents, many of whom are still living in temporary accommodation a year after the fierce fighting ended.
Ayman Dahman has been living with his family for more than a year in a rented house after his home was destroyed during the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in May last year.
Dahman does not know when his old apartment – for which he continues to pay installments – will be rebuilt.
The Gaza Strip has seen four conflicts, the last of which was in May 2021. The fighting lasted 11 days that year, during which around 1,700 homes were completely destroyed.
“I bought my apartment a few years before the war and I still pay my monthly salary installments. Now I live with my wife and two daughters and two sons in an apartment I rented after the war; we don’t know when we’ll be back home,” Dahman said.
Dahman and his family lived in a five-story building inhabited by 10 families, north of Gaza City.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Refugees has provided rental assistance to 154 Palestinian families whose homes were completely demolished during the war, including the Dahman family.
Naji Sarhan, undersecretary at the Ministry of Public Works in Gaza, said no more than 20 percent of damaged properties have been rebuilt since the end of the war last year.
“What has been achieved and what is being done in the housing sector so far is no more than 20% of houses completely destroyed and 70% of houses partially damaged,” Sarhan told a press conference in Gaza on Sunday.
He added, “There is no commitment for the reconstruction of the high-rise and multi-storey residential buildings that were bombed and demolished by the occupation during the aggression last May.”
Last year, Egypt and Qatar pledged $1 billion to rebuild the Gaza Strip after the war.
“Many friendly countries began to pledge to rebuild Gaza after the city was attacked last year, led by Egypt with a $500 million grant and Qatar with a $500 million grant. , in addition to some sporadic grants of limited amounts provided by countries and institutions,” said Sarhan.
Egypt has also started construction of Gaza’s 1.8 kilometer long Corniche Street, three residential communities comprising 117 buildings with a total of more than 2,500 homes, in addition to a plan to build a bridge in the Shujaiya area and an open-air tunnel in the Saraya Quarter.
Meanwhile, Qatar has started the construction of 200 housing units, in addition to the restoration of 11 partially damaged residential buildings. It is also repairing a number of destroyed street intersections pledging to continue the reconstruction process, Sarhan said.
Fears over new rounds of fighting between Israel and Hamas have mounted amid tensions over Israeli preparations to stage a May 29 flag march in Jerusalem. A similar movement led to the outbreak of violence last year.
Ismail Haniyeh, head of Hamas’ political bureau, told a conference held in Gaza: “We are following the threats to storm the holy Al-Aqsa Mosque on May 29 or organize a flag march.
“I warn the enemy against such crimes and such measures.”
Palestinians in Gaza are divided on support for a new confrontation.
Supporters of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and some supporters of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine express their willingness to confront Israel in flag parades. Others fear that any conflict will only aggravate the economic difficulties of the Gaza Strip.