UN demands lifting of ban on construction material imports so rebuilding can start, as cost of war damage put at £1.4bn

Billions of dollars are to be spent rebuilding the Gaza Strip, where over 4,000 homes have been destroyed. The three-week conflict that ended yesterday has left tens of thousands of Palestinians homeless and 40,000 without running water.

A total of 4,100 homes were destroyed and 17,00 damaged, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics.

About 1,500 factories and workshops, 23 mosques and 10 water or sewage pipes were also damaged, plus 23 facilities classed as either hospitals, schools or universities. The bureau estimated the cost of the damage at around £1.4bn, including about £140m of damage to infrastructure.

UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, who visted Gaza yesterday, said that the area's infrastructure had been “devastated”. He called for a lifting of the ban on importation of building materials such as cement and pipes to Gaza.

Such imports were banned after Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007. Ban said: “It's absolutely critical that these kinds of material now be allowed into Gaza on a regular and hopefully free basis.” H said he would pursue the matter with the Israeli authorities later this week.

The three weeks of violence claimed over 1,300 lives, 412 of them children, and wounded more than 5,300, of which 1,855 were children, as well as causing widespread destruction and suffering.

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