BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Some 8,500 families in the Gaza Strip are to receive assistance to reconstruct homes damaged or destroyed by Israel’s devastating assault on the besieged coastal enclave in 2014, according to UNRWA -- the UN agency responsible for providing assistance to Palestinian refugees.
The $9.5 million relief fund is part of Germany’s contribution to UNRWA’s disbursement plan toward rebuilding shelters in the Gaza Strip, nearly two years after the war, from which up to 75,000 Palestinians remain homeless.
In a press release
published on Tuesday, UNRWA said the funds would begin disbursement to the eligible families within a week.
Germany has provided a total of $65.4 million toward the reconstruction effort and $91.7 million overall to UNRWA in 2015, the press release added.
Last week, in what was seen as an unusual escalation of violence since a ceasefire was brokered between Israel and Hamas in 2014, an Israeli air assault
targeting the southern Gaza Strip for four consecutive days killed one Palestinian woman
and wounded several others.
The Gaza Strip has seen three wars with Israel since 2008, with Israel's 2014 offensive destroying 12,600 homes, and leaving another 6,500 severely damaged and 150,000 housing units uninhabitable.
Reconstruction efforts have been painfully slow -- hindered by Israel's blockade, ongoing disputes with the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority, and a severe shortage of foreign assistance.
UNRWA has played a leading role in rebuilding destroyed homes in the beleaguered coastal enclave, but said in April that of the $720 million required for its emergency shelter program, donor countries had pledged only $247 million.
The UN warned in September last year that if current trends were to continue unchanged in Gaza, the territory would be uninhabitable by 2020.