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DAVOS: At least $15 billion will be needed to rebuild houses in Gaza, the head of the Palestine Investment Fund said on Wednesday, underlining the scale of devastation caused by Israel’s offensive.

Chairman Mohammed Mustafa said international reports indicated 350,000 housing units had been completely or partially damaged in Gaza.

Assuming 150,000 of these would need to be rebuilt at an average cost of $100,000 per unit, “that’s $15 billion for housing units”, he said.

“We still didn’t talk about infrastructure, we didn’t talk about the hospitals that were damaged, the grids…,” he said at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The figure points to reconstruction costs that will dwarf previous bills for rebuilding Gaza after earlier conflicts, with the war not yet over more than three months since it began.

Following a 2014 war between Hamas and Israel, which lasted seven weeks and killed 2,100 Palestinians, Qatar spent over $1 billion on housing and relief projects in Gaza.

Nearly a fifth of Gaza’s buildings destroyed or damaged: UN estimate

Israel has laid waste to much of the territory in a campaign which health authorities in Hamas-run Gaza say has killed 24,448 people since Oct. 7, when the Palestinian group ignited the war by storming Israel, killing 1,200 people and abducting 240 more, according to Israeli tallies.

Figures released by the Hamas-run media office in Gaza show more than 360,000 housing units have sustained severe or partial damage, and more than 70,000 have been completely destroyed.

Mustafa said the Palestinian leadership would, in the short-term, continue to focus on humanitarian aid including food and water but eventually the focus would shift to reconstruction.

Risk of hunger and famine

The war has driven most of Gaza’s 2.3 million people from their homes, some of them several times, and caused a humanitarian crisis, with food, fuel and medical supplies running low.

“If the war in Gaza continues, more people are likely to die of hunger or famine than war,” Mustafa said.

Blinken says Arab countries not keen to rebuild Gaza if it will be ‘leveled’ again

The first steps should be to bring food, medicine, water and electricity back to the besieged enclave, he added.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday Arab countries were not keen to get involved in the rebuilding of Gaza if the enclave will be “leveled” again in a few years.

Mustafa said the reconstruction effort would be huge and the financial needs significant. He also said money would not solve Gaza’s problem, adding that it needed a political solution.

The Ramallah-based Palestine Investment Fund is part of the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority led by President Mahmoud Abbas, which was ousted from Gaza by Hamas in a brief civil war in 2007.

Israel says its campaign aims to destroy Hamas and recover the Israeli hostages.

The United States has said it wants to see the West Bank and Gaza reunited under Palestinian-led governance after the war. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected a role for the PA.

Asked what future role he saw a role for Hamas, Mustafa said the “best way forward is to be as inclusive as possible”.

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