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Gaza reconstruction could take 80 years, damage unseen since World War II: UN

A Palestinian woman and a girl search for items through the rubble of a collapsed building in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on April 24, 2024 following Israeli airstrikes. (Photo by AFP)

A United Nations official says the destruction caused by Israel’s war on the Gaza Strip is unseen since the Second World War, estimating that the reconstruction of the Palestinian territory could take 80 years and cost up to $40 billion.

Speaking at a press conference in the Jordanian capital Amman on Thursday, Abdallah al-Dardari, UN assistant secretary-general and director of the UN Development Program’s (UNDP) regional office for the Arab states, added that the Israeli aggression has completely or partially destroyed 72 percent of all residential buildings in Gaza.

“The United Nations Development Programme’s initial estimates for the reconstruction of… the Gaza Strip surpass $30 billion and could reach up to $40 billion,” he said.

“The scale of the destruction is huge and unprecedented… This is a mission that the global community has not dealt with since World War II.”

He also estimated the Israeli attacks have left 37 million tons of rubble across Gaza, warning that the “colossal figure” is increasing every day and approaching 40 million tons.

Dardari further said that the rebuilding of the Gaza Strip through a normal process could take decades.

Earlier, the UN Development Programme released an assessment, noting that Gaza would need "approximately 80 years to restore all the fully destroyed housing units" under a scenario assuming the pace of reconstruction follows the trend of several previous Gaza conflicts.

“It is therefore important that we act quickly to re-house people in decent housing and restore their lives to normal – economically, socially, in terms of health and education,” he noted. “This is our top priority, and it must be achieved within the first three years following the cessation of hostilities.”

The UN official also stressed that the Gaza genocide has wiped out 40 years worth of investments in the territory's human development, saying, “We are almost back in the ’80s.”

Israel unleashed its US-backed Gaza onslaught on October 7 after the Palestinian Hamas resistance group carried out a surprise operation against the occupying entity in retaliation for its intensified atrocities against the Palestinian people.

The Tel Aviv regime has so far killed at least 34,596 Palestinians, mostly women and children, and injured 77,816 others.

‘1.74mn Palestinians pushed into poverty since Gaza war’

Additionally, on Thursday, a joint study by the UNDP and the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), found that the poverty rate in Palestine has surged to 58.4 percent since Israel’s Gaza offensive, pushing nearly 1.74 million additional people into poverty.

At the same time, it added, Palestine’s gross domestic product (GDP) plummeted by 26.9 percent, resulting in a loss of $7.1 billion compared to a 2023 baseline.

The assessment also predicted that the poverty level could more than double to 60.7 percent and the GDP would further decline by 29 percent if the war were to continue for nine months.

“Every additional day that this war continues is exacting huge and compounding costs to Gazans and all Palestinians, now and in the medium and long term,” UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner warned.

“Unprecedented levels of human losses, capital destruction, and the steep rise in poverty in such a short period of time will precipitate a serious development crisis that jeopardizes the future of generations to come.”

Meanwhile, the report said that human development in Gaza will be set back by 44 years if the Israeli aggression continues for nine months.

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