A Qatari group in Gaza has handed over some 1,060 housing units to Palestinian families who lost their homes in recent wars in the territory.
The completion of the homes by the Qatari Committee for Reconstruction of the Gaza Strip signals the end of the first of three phases of a multi-million dollar development in Palestine that the Gulf country pledged to build in 2012.
Qatar hands over 1060 apartments to Palestinians in Gaza Strip. Apartments built on former settlement lands. pic.twitter.com/VM4LKMq0LX
— Khaled Abu Toameh (@KhaledAbuToameh) January 16, 2016
That promise was made by then-Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani during a landmark visit to Gaza. He was the first Arab head of state to take an official trip to the territory since 2007, when Hamas took control of Gaza.
At the time, QNA reported that Qatar had planned to spend $415 million on several reconstruction projects, including Hamad Residential Town, which has since been renamed to Sheikh Hamad City.
Two years later, Qatar authorities pledged $1 billion to the effort.
The project includes the 1,060 housing units that have now been handed over, as well as two schools, a health center, a commercial center and a mosque in addition to infrastructure facilities, roads and green spaces.
Qatar had also pledged to build a “Hamad Medical City,” a six-floor hospital that treats people with disabilities and injuries, as well as provides prosthetics service and cochlea implantation for deaf children.
According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), hundreds of thousands of Gazans continue to live amid the rubble of homes and neighborhoods that were destroyed in a 2014 Israeli bombing campaign.
In an appeal launched this month, the UN agency said some 80,000 people in Gaza were reliant on humanitarian assistance in the year 2000. That figure has now risen to over 830,000 people.
Meanwhile, QNA reports that Palestinian Minister of Public Works and Housing Mofeed Al-Hasayneh said Gaza is in need of 130,000 residential units.
But reconstruction has been slow because it is difficult to bring construction materials into Gaza due to Israeli restrictions on imports, according to Reuters.
The newswire quotes Gaza economist Maher Al-Tabbaa as saying:
“Only 400,000 tonnes of cement have entered Gaza since October 2014, or the equivalent of Gaza’s need of cement in two months only.”