Rebuilding Gaza Strip could take nearly 20 years, UN warns

If the war in Gaza ended today, it would take until 2040 to rebuild all the homes that were destroyed in nearly seven months of Israeli bombings and ground offensives in the territory, according to estimates. United Nations published Thursday.

“Every additional day of this war brings enormous and growing costs for the people of Gaza and all Palestinians,” said Achim Steiner, Administrator of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

According to the new report from UNDP and the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, at least 370,000 homes were damaged in Gaza, including 79,000 that were completely destroyed. This report details how the Israeli assault, launched after the Hamas attack on October 7, has devastated the economy of the Palestinian territories and how the impact will increase as the conflict drags on.

After previous conflicts between Israel and Hamas, housing was rebuilt at a rate of 992 units per year. Even if Israel allows five times more construction materials into Gaza, it will take until 2040 to rebuild the destroyed houses, without repairing the damaged ones, according to the report.

In Gaza, the Israeli offensive has virtually paralyzed the economy, which contracted by 81% in the last quarter of 2023. The report states that “the productive base of the economy has been destroyed”, with some sectors having suffered losses of more than 90%.

Gaza, where some 2.3 million Palestinians live, has been under blockade by Israel and Egypt since Hamas seized power in 2007, imposing strict controls on what enters and leaves the territory. Even before the war, the country faced “hyperunemployment” of 45%, reaching nearly 63% among young workers. Since the start of the war, the country has lost some 201,000 jobs.

The war has also had an impact on the West Bank, where Israel has imposed movement restrictions for months. In 2024, the entire Palestinian economy ― including Gaza and the West Bank ― has so far contracted by 25.8%, and if the war continues, the loss will reach 29% in July, which is equivalent to US$7.6 billion, according to the report.

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