New homes for Gazans after devastation of Cast Lead

3 May

Birgitta Tazelaar, head of Mission of the Netherlands Representation to the Palestinian Authority, watches a Palestinian woman react during a ceremony distributing new homes in Khan Younis


Thousands of displaced families in Gaza have been rehoused by the UN agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA), with the support of a $7.2 million grant from the Netherlands that has also funded roads, water infrastructure and an electricity system.

According to UNRWA, the residential neighborhood is a part of the agency’s efforts to rehouse thousands of displaced families in Gaza and took about nine months to complete. About 80 percent of the families who will receive the 223 homes were displaced in Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s December 2008-January 2009 attack on Gaza, according to UNRWA spokesman Adnan Abu Hasna.

Other housing projects underway include ones funded by Saudi Arabia and Japan. However, according to Abu Hasna, these vital housing projects are still short of raw materials which Israel restricts from entry into the Gaza Strip.

“Let me emphasize that we still need more than sixty truckloads of raw building materials on a daily basis,” Abu Hasna said, although only about a third of that was coming in. Recently, Israel said it would allow more vital UNRWA-run housing projects to resume in the coastal territory.

“We feel that these shelters represent a new beginning for the refugees,” said Birgitta Tazelaar, the representative of the Netherlands to the Palestinian Authority in a 24 April UNRWA press release, “We hope that they become a symbol of hope for all Gazans who dream of a life free of restrictions and poverty.” Tazelaar also urged Israel to ease restrictions and allow more homes to be completed.

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