GAZA CITY, March 2 (IRIN) - More than 4,036 houses in the Gaza Strip
were totally destroyed or beyond repair in the aftermath of Israel’s 23-day conflict
from 27 December 2008 to 17 January 2009, according to an April 2009 UNRWA and UN Development Programme assessment.
Rebuilding these homes has been almost impossible because Israel
has not allowed cement and building materials into Gaza since June 2007, saying they could be seized by Hamas for military purposes.
The UN has repeatedly called for the lifting of the blockade
on humanitarian grounds.
International donors pledged US$4.5 billion in aid for the Palestinian Authority, much of it specifically for Gaza, at a conference in Egypt in March 2009, but little has reached the Strip because of the continuing blockade and bitter divisions
between political parties Hamas and Fatah
Those made homeless in last year’s war have squeezed in with relatives, rented apartments or made do in their damaged homes, aid workers said.
A new project by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) aims to build around 120 mud brick houses for dozens of homeless families in the next few months. Each house costs about US$10,000 and takes three months to build.
While the houses offer better conditions than tents and can stand for 100 years, they are not meant as a long-term solution, UNRWA said.