UN estimates rebuilding Gaza will cost up to $40 billion


A United Nations agency said on Thursday that it would cost between $30 billion and $40 billion to rebuild war-torn Gaza. It will require an effort not seen since the Second World War.

This is based on the UN Development Programme’s initial estimates, said UN Deputy Secretary-General Abdallah al-Dardari.

“The extent of the devastation is enormous and unprecedented. This is a mission that the world community has not experienced since the Second World War,” Dardari said during a press conference in Amman, Jordan.

If the reconstruction is carried out by normal processes “it will take decades”. “The Palestinians do not have the luxury of waiting for decades. It is therefore important that we react quickly to get people into proper housing and return their lives to normal – economically, socially and in terms of health and education.”

Dardari says this is the UN’s highest priority. “This must be achieved within the first three years after the cessation of hostilities.”

He reckons the debris after bombings and explosions is about 37 million tons.

“This is a huge figure and it is increasing daily,” he added. “The latest data suggests that it is already close to 40 million tonnes.”

He also said “72% of all residential buildings were completely or partially destroyed”.

“Reconstruction must be planned carefully, efficiently and extremely flexibly. We do not know how the war will end or what type of government will be established in the Gaza Strip after the war.”

Hamas Studying Gaza Ceasefire Proposal

Ismail Haniyeh, head of Hamas, meanwhile said on Thursday that the Palestinian militant group is studying the proposal for a truce in the nearly seven-month-long war raging in Gaza “with a positive spirit”.

Haniyeh said in a call with Egypt’s intelligence chief Abbas Kamel that he “appreciates the role that Egypt played”. The country acts as a mediator in the talks with Qatar and the US. He “emphasizes the positive spirit with which the movement is studying the proposal,” according to a statement on Hamas’ official website.

The mediators proposed a ceasefire which means that fighting will be suspended for 40 days and that dozens of hostages will be exchanged for numerous Palestinian prisoners.

During a visit to Israel on Wednesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned the Islamic movement to accept the plan.

“Hamas must say yes so we can get it done,” said Blinken.

However, the outcome of the talks is still very uncertain, especially regarding the number of hostages that will be released and differences over the purpose of any agreement.

Hamas’s goal remains to “bring an end to the war”, said senior Hamas official Suhail al-Hindi. This is contrary to the aim of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has pledged that his army will continue to fight Hamas after the ceasefire ends.

Comments from other Hamas officials indicate that the movement’s view of the ceasefire is “negative”.

The war began when Hamas attacked southern Israel on October 7. At least 1,170 people, mainly civilians, have already died, according to an AFP tally based on Israel’s official figures. Israel estimates that 129 persons, who were taken hostage by militants, are still in Gaza. However, the army says 34 of them have died. In the seven months of detention by Hamas, no information has ever been provided about the hostages’ condition.

Israel’s counterattack has already claimed the lives of at least 34,596 people in Gaza, mainly women and children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-controlled area.