Ruins of a residential area in Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip. (btselem / CC BY-SA 3.0)

It will likely take 30 years to repair the damage to the Gaza Strip, given the current rate of construction, a senior United Nations official has said.

More than 2,200 Palestinians, including 1,462 civilians, were killed in last summer’s 50-day war, according to the U.N.

An Associated Press interview explains:

Roberto Valent, the incoming area chief of a U.N. agency involved in reconstruction, blamed the delays on the slow flow of promised foreign aid and continued Israeli curbs on the entry of building material to Gaza.

Speaking in the Gaza City office of the U.N. Development Program, he said his tour of destroyed neighborhoods this week was “very, very disheartening.”

Israel and Egypt have severely restricted access to Gaza since the Islamic militant Hamas seized the territory in 2007.

Valent told The Associated Press on Wednesday [June 24] that the system is too slow and Israel must open Gaza’s borders to allow for the speedy rebuilding or repair of 141,000 homes he said suffered minor to severe damage or were destroyed.

“The housing stock is being reconstructed at such a snail’s pace,” he said. Easing access is not enough and “the real solution is the lifting of restrictions.”

In New York, U.N. political chief Jeffrey Feltman told the Security Council on Wednesday that the pace of reconstruction “remains far too slow,” but that the U.N.-supervised system has been vital for getting building materials into Gaza. He said close to 90,000 homeowners have received construction materials for repairs and that 135 construction projects were approved by Israel, out of 202 submitted.

Critics of the reconstruction efforts note that not a single home has been rebuilt. Feltman said the construction of 16,000 homes is expected to begin shortly.

He appealed to donors to send promised aid. Otherwise, money will run out by September, he said.

Donor countries have pledged $5.4 billion in aid, including for Gaza reconstruction, but Palestinian officials say they’ve received only a fraction so far.

The Israeli group Gisha, which advocates for Gaza civilians, said about 5 million tons of construction materials are needed to rebuild the 2014 war damage.

Read more here.

–Posted by Roisin Davis

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