Hamas: Gaza housing reconstruction to start in 48 hours

Hamas: Gaza housing reconstruction to start in 48 hours

Ismail Haniya, the de-facto Hamas leader of the Gaza Strip, announced Sunday his government will soon start rebuilding of houses destroyed by Israel in the late 2008-early 2009 offensive.

Haniya told a Hamas-organized conference on the Gaza reconstruction effort that the first phase of the project to reconstruct all the houses that were destroyed during the last Israeli war is to start in two days.

"The government will provide the needed funds for the project and will inaugurate the project's cornerstone within the coming 48 hours," Haniya told the conference, without revealing the sources of the funds.

In late December 2008, Israel launched the three-week military operation "Cast Lead" aimed at halting home-made rockets fired from the coastal enclave at Israeli cities and communities in southern Israel.

According to the Hamas-run Ministry of Works figures, some 50,000 houses and buildings were either partially or completely destroyed. The ministry said around 500 million dollars were needed for the reconstruction of the houses.

Two months after the war on Gaza ended, the United States led a donors conference in the Egyptian resort of Sharm al-Sheikh during which donors pledged 7 billion dollars for reconstruction.

However, the donors linked the donations to rebuild Gaza with the situation on the ground, chiefly meaning Hamas' control of the Gaza Strip the group's split with the rival Fatah of President Mahmoud Abbas, dpa reported.

"The project is sponsored directly by the government with a governmental contribution. It will be executed by the local private sector and the related construction establishments," said Haniya.

However, Haniya did not also say where the government would get the reconstruction raw materials from, since Israel still imposes a tight blockade on the Gaza Strip after Hamas seized total control - ousting the Fatah by force - in June 2007.

Israel eased the blockade following the controversial attack by its navy on the Gaza-bound aid flotilla last May. But it still does not allow construction materials into the enclave, except for international organizations building schools and hospitals.

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