Emad Drimly, Osama Radi
June 2, 2011 - 12:00am

Head of Palestinian Contractors Union Osama Kaheil said Wednesday that the Gaza Strip is in need of five billion U.S. dollars for the reconstruction process including the infrastructure and the economical sectors that had been paralyzed for years.

Kaheil said in an interview with Xinhua that the Gaza Strip is not only in need of reconstructing what the Israeli occupation had destroyed during the three-week Israeli operation Cast Lead in late 2008, adding "the Gaza Strip is in need of comprehensive reconstruction process that includes all sectors."

"What had been destroyed by Israel during the war needs 1.5 billion dollars to reconstruct," said Kaheil, stressing that "the process of reconstruction needs certain measurements that consider the growth of the population."

He said "the comprehensive process of reconstruction, which includes education, economy, agriculture and tourism as well as other economical sectors would need five billion dollars. Launching the process would need certain conditions and terms to guarantee the finalization of the process."

Israel has been imposing a tight blockade on the Gaza Strip since June 2007, right after the Islamic Hamas movement seized control of the enclave and routed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' security forces. Israel, however, eased the blockade last June following the attack on Gaza-bound aid flotilla on May 31.

A reconciliation agreement reached between Hamas and Fatah was signed in Cairo in May. The deal ended around four years of division and paved the way for refreshing the projects of reconstructing the Gaza Strip.

The agreement includes forming a national unity government for the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, and the West Bank, which is administrated by Abbas' Fatah. The government would also include independent technocrats that would help in reconstructing the coastal enclave.

"The process of reconstruction of Gaza had already begun six months ago, but in a low profile," said Kaheil, adding that the process of reconstruction was renewed after the Israeli relaxation of the siege and after Israel allowed in some construction materials.

He clarified that the ongoing process of reconstruction includes building houses and part of the damaged infrastructure, as well as building schools, hospitals and paving roads.

"But what is needed right now and what the people here are expecting is to start a comprehensive process of construction following the signing of the reconciliation agreement and finding the proper circumstances which include all the needs for finalizing the process of reconstruction," said Kaheil.

He also praised the proposal of Palestinian businessmen, which suggested President Abbas establish a special ministry called Ministry of Reconstructing the Gaza Strip as part of the new government that will be formed as a result of the reconciliation agreement.

"President Abbas backed the proposal because the Gaza Strip is in need of a special ministry to take care of reconstructing the Gaza Strip and observe the whole process of the comprehensive construction in coordination with other ministries," said Kaheil.

He also called for the immediate implementation of the reconciliation agreement, saying "it is impossible to keep the process of reconstructing the Gaza Strip with the implementation of the whole reconciliation agreement," adding "there are so many projects need to be launched."

"We have a plan to build an underground metro in the Gaza Strip begins from Rafah in southern Gaza Strip and ends in Beit Hanoon in northern Gaza Strip," said Kaheil, adding "this would release the pressure on communications and transportation in the Gaza Strip," said Kaheil.


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