Gaza will need largest post-war reconstruction effort since 1945, UN says

UN Development Programme official estimates post-war reconstruction will cost between $40-50bn.

A picture shows a vue of a devastated neighbourhood in Khan Younis
A picture shows a view of a devastated neighbourhood in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip [AFP]

The level of destruction in Gaza has not been since World War II, according to a United Nations official who estimated that post-war reconstruction could cost up to $50bn.

“We have not seen anything like this since 1945,” Abdallah al-Dardari, director of the regional bureau for Arab states at the UN Development Programme (UNDP), said on Thursday during an online news briefing. “That intensity, in such a short time and the massive scale of destruction,” he added.

More than 70 percent of all housing has been destroyed, the UN official said, and about 37 million tonnes of debris needs to be removed. By comparison, during the 2014 Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, about 2.4 million tonnes of debris were removed.

Overall, the level of destruction is such that the UNDP estimates that the human development index in Gaza has regressed by 40 years. The index assesses factors including years of gains in schooling, education attainment, health and life expectancy at birth.

“All investments in human development … for the last 40 years in Gaza have been wiped out,” al-Dardari said. “We are almost back in the ’80s,” he added.

The overall cost of post-war reconstruction in Gaza would cost between $40-50bn “at least”, he said.

The UN agency’s top priority would be a three-year post-war recovery phase with the aim of providing temporary shelters and basic services for Palestinians to be able to return to the sites of their former homes.

The Israeli army has been pounding the Gaza Strip since October 7, in one of the most intense aerial bombardments in modern history. More than 34,500 people have been killed, according to Palestinian authorities, large swaths of the territory have reduced to rubble and famine looms in parts of northern Gaza amid Israel’s severe restrictions on supplies of food and humanitarian aid.

Israel launched the assault after Hamas led an unprecedented assault into communities in southern Israel killing at least 1,139 people, mostly civilians, according to Israeli authorities, and taking about 240 captives into the Strip.

On top of the destruction, the humanitarian situation inside Gaza has been deteriorating amid restrictions on the number of aid trucks allowed to enter the Strip. UN agencies and aid groups have urged Israel to open more land crossings to Gaza to facilitate aid access and warned of a looming man-made famine. Israel has denied restricting the flow of aid into Gaza and blamed aid groups operating in Gaza for any delays.

On Thursday, US Department of State spokesperson Matthew Miller said Israel should prevent attacks on aid convoys bound for Gaza after Israeli protesters assaulted two Jordanian aid trucks on their way to Gaza.

Meanwhile, officials have renewed efforts around ceasefire and captives negotiations following weeks of impasse.

Hamas said a delegation is set to visit Egypt soon for further talks. The group’s political bureau chief Ismail Haniyeh affirmed on Thursday that the group is studying a ceasefire proposal presented by Israel with a “positive spirit”.

Source: Al Jazeera