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Saudi ministry plans to increase role of private sector in urban development

GAZA: Residents of Gaza are frustrated by the slow pace of reconstruction work. A year after the fierce clashes ended, many of them are still living in temporary accommodation.

Ayman Dahman has been living with his family in a rented house for more than a year. His building was razed during the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which broke out in May last year.

He does not know when his old home will be rebuilt. However, he continues to pay the installments.

Indeed, four conflicts have shaken the Gaza Strip, the last dating from May 2021. That year, the fighting lasted eleven days and resulted in the complete destruction of some one thousand seven hundred homes.

“I bought my apartment a few years before the war. I dedicate part of my monthly salary to the payment of installments. I now live with my wife and children (two daughters and two sons) in an apartment I rented after the war; we don’t know when we will return to our accommodation,” says Ayman.

Along with his family, he previously lived in a five-story building in northern Gaza City. Ten families lived in the same building.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has provided compensation for rent payments to 154 Palestinian families who lost their homes during the war. The Dahman family is one of them.

According to Naji Sarhan, undersecretary at the Ministry of Public Works in Gaza, at most 20 percent of the affected properties have been rebuilt since the war ended last year.

“In the housing sector, the works accomplished and those in progress do not exceed 20% of the houses completely demolished, and 70% of the houses partially affected”, he indicated during a press conference held in Gaza on Sunday.

He clarified that “no commitment has been made regarding the reconstruction of the high and multi-storey residential buildings that were bombed and demolished by the occupation during the aggression last May”.

Last year, Egypt and Qatar announced that they would devote one billion dollars (1 dollar = 0.94 euro) to the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip after the war.

“Many friendly countries are committed to rebuilding Gaza after the attack on the city last year. At the top of these countries are Egypt (500 million dollars) and Qatar (500 million dollars also). In addition, some countries and institutions have provided sporadic grants for modest amounts,” says Mr. Sarhan.

For its part, Egypt has started the construction of the Corniche street in Gaza (1.8 km long), of three residential districts comprising one hundred and seventeen buildings, totaling more than two thousand five hundred dwellings. It has also started construction of a bridge in the Shujaiya district and a tunnel in the Saraya district.

At the same time, Qatar is currently constructing two hundred apartments and restoring eleven partially damaged residential buildings. It is also repairing a number of destroyed street intersections and is committed to continuing the reconstruction process, according to Sarhan.

By planning to hold a May 29 flag march in Jerusalem, Israelis have stoked fears of a new round of fighting between Israel and Hamas. An initiative of this type caused the outbreak of violence last year.

During a conference held in Gaza, Ismaël Haniyeh, head of Hamas’ political bureau, declared: “We are attentive to the various threats: that of storming the holy mosque of Al-Aqsa on May 29, or that of to organize a march of flags.

The enemy must refrain from committing such crimes and such actions.”

Palestinians in Gaza are not all in favor of a new confrontation.

Supporters of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and some supporters of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine say they are ready to confront Israel if the flags march. Others fear that any confrontation will only aggravate the economic difficulties of the Gaza Strip.

This text is the translation of an article published on Arabnews.com.

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