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13 Nov, 2014

Palestine Signs US$3m Gaza Rubble Removal Agreement with Sweden

RAMALLAH, November 12, 2014 – (WAFA) – Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah signed on Wednesday a funding agreement with Sweden for the removal of rubble in the Gaza Strip.

A three million dollars agreement was signed by Swedish Consul-General in Jerusalem Ann-Sofia Nilsson and UNPD Representative Frode Mauring at the Prime Minister’s Office in Ramallah to fund the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) project for the removal of the tremendous amount of rubble in Gaza Strip.

Hamdallah welcomed the project as a “positive step that paves the way for accelerating Gaza reconstruction” and underscored its importance in terms of alleviating the suffering of Gaza population, particularly internally-displaced people, whose living conditions are aggravating as the winter season approaches.

He further stressed that this project will provide job opportunities to Gazans, contributing to the reduction of unemployment rates.

Large areas were reduced to rubble during the 51-day of Israeli aggression on the strip, where hundreds of homes, schools and public buildings were destroyed and damaged. The tremendous amount of rubble, estimated at 1.2 million tons, requires huge potential and big budget in order to be cleared. Other media sources stated that the rubble amounts to around 1.8 to 2.2 million tons.

Several creative ideas were devised in a report by the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction (PECDAR) to deal with the rubble. Such ideas included grinding and recycling them as raw materials to be used in the reconstruction, especially as infrastructure for roads.

The report also proposed the use of the large amount of debris in expanding geographical area of ​​the strip through the deliberate dumping of specific areas of the beaches, or be used in the rehabilitation of the coast and building waves breakers.

A PECDAR report shows that about 8,800 housing units were completely destroyed, and about 7,900 thousand units were severely damaged, while another 39,000 units sustained medium to simple damages.

In addition, 81 mosques were fully destroyed, while around 150 mosques and many churches were damaged to varying degrees. In addition, 230 schools, several universities, 350 industrial establishments, many agricultural facilities and public buildings were also destroyed.

The onslaught caused an extensive disruption to the water and sanitation networks, energy supplies and facilities, roads and bridges and telecommunications system.

Tremendous piles of rubble continue to block entire streets, prompting people to devise new bypass roads. Competent authorities have started in some areas to clear the rubble using available equipment and vehicles.