Damages in Gaza estimated at nearly $2 bn

January 19th, 2009 - 6:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Ramallah, Jan 19 (DPA) Israel’s three-week offensive in Gaza has caused an estimated damage of almost $2 billion, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) said Monday, noting the strip had become a “disaster-stricken area”.At least 22,000 private and public buildings were either damaged or destroyed, PCBS director Loai Shabaneh said in a statement.

“The aggression has destroyed public service infrastructure, public and private buildings as well as health, educational and sports building and even UNRWA (UN Relief and Works Agency) institutions, totally paralysing social and economic life,” he said.

Shabaneh estimated the initial losses caused to the economy and infrastructure since the start of the assault Dec 27 until the call for a ceasefire last Saturday at over $1.9 billion.

The hardest hit economic sector was agriculture, he said, with as much as 80 percent of agricultural land was destroyed.

He said 4,100 buildings were totally destroyed and another 17,000, including schools and hospitals, partially destroyed, making them unsafe for use. Together, they make up 14 percent of all buildings in the Gaza Strip.

Shabaneh expected the reconstruction process and reviving the economy to take at least 12 months.

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