Egypt building 3 towns in Gaza to house 300,000 people: Palestinian official tells AP

Ahram Online , Tuesday 15 Feb 2022

Egypt’s current efforts to reconstruct the Gaza Strip include building three towns that are set to house around 300,000 residents, undersecretary of the Palestinian Ministry of Public Works and Housing Naji Sarhan told AP.

Labourers work on concrete slab foundations for one of three Egyptian-funded housing complexes in the Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022. (Photos: AP)

In May last year, Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi pledged $500 million to rebuild Gaza after an Egypt-brokered ceasefire stopped an 11-day Israeli assault on the strip that killed 250 Palestinians and caused financial losses estimated at $450 million.

Qatar also pledged $500 million for Gaza’s reconstruction and the United States announced it was allocating $110 million in new economic assistance to the Palestinian people, including $5.5 million for immediate relief to the strip.

The Israeli bombing of the strip completely demolished around 1,650 housing units and caused damage to about 60,000 housing units, Sarhan said in December.

The reconstruction of Gaza requires far more than $500 million, El-Sisi said during a panel discussion at the World Youth Forum (WYF) in Sharm El-Sheikh last month.

“We were hoping to contribute even more than the payment pledged,” he said.

El-Sisi was the first Egyptian president to call on the international community to fund the agency in his speech to the United Nations General Assembly, Sahar Al-Jabury, chief representative in Cairo for the United Nations’ Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), said in the same panel discussion.

Al-Jabury said that the UNRWA depends on Egypt’s role to call on international partners to continue supporting the agency to help the Gaza Strip recover from the crisis in which it finds itself.

In the report published by the AP on Monday, Sarhan said work is also underway to develop the strip’s main coastal road, expecting projects in Gaza to be completed in a year-and-a-half.

The Egyptian projects in the strip, which are implemented in cooperation with nine Palestinian companies, will secure around 16,000 job opportunities, the AP quoted Alaa Al-Arraj, head of the Palestinian contractors' union, as saying.

Egypt has delivered tones of aid and materials, including bulldozers, trucks, and utility poles, as well as dozens of Egyptian workers, to finish the reconstruction process in Gaza, a home to more than 2 million Palestinians.

Since the ceasefire, Egypt has called for creating a suitable climate for the resumption of the Egyptian Palestinian peace process and has sent head of the General Intelligence Service Abbas Kamel twice last year to the Israeli and Palestinian territories to consolidate the ceasefire.

Egyptian delegations are also visiting Gaza to inspect the reconstruction work, and an office at a Gaza City hotel for permanent technical representatives has been opened, the AP reported.

“Gaza is a reminder to everybody, effectively, that you can't really do anything without Egypt,” Hafsa Halawa, an expert on Egypt at the Middle East Institute, a Washington think tank, told AP.

In solidarity with the Palestinians, Egypt has opened since May the Rafah border crossing, which is the only crossing point between Egypt and Palestine's coastal enclave, to let stranded people from both sides cross the border and to bring aid and reconstruction materials into Gaza.

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