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Gaza infrastructure damage estimated at billions of dollars, say UN and World Bank

Report assesses damage at $18.5bn with fears it will be higher after a second evaluation
Israeli forces destroyed Palestinian homes in Gaza and gutted al-Shifa Hospital (MEE/Mohammed al Hajjar)

Israel has destroyed billions of dollars worth of infrastructure in the first four months of its bombardment of the Gaza Strip, according to a new report by the World Bank and the United Nations.

Describing the level of damage inflicted by Israel as "unprecedented", both global bodies said the damage is estimated to be worth at least $18.5bn - the combined GDP of the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

"The level of destruction in the Gaza Strip since October 2023 is unprecedented," said the Interim Damage Assessment report, released on Tuesday. 

"To date, 80 percent of total damages were concentrated in the governorates of Gaza, North Gaza and Khan Younis.

"The municipality of Gaza alone accounted for $7.29bn of total damage, with Jabaliya following at $2.01bn, Khan Younis at $1.82bn, and Beit Lahia accounting for $1.08bn of the total."

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The report noted that significant damage was recorded in Beit Lahia and Rafah governorates and said 26 million tonnes of debris and rubble left in Gaza is estimated to take years to remove.

Since the bombardment of Gaza began, Israel has destroyed approximately 62 percent of all homes in the besieged enclave, leaving more than a million people without homes.

Public infrastructure, such as water, health and education, accounted for 19 percent of the overall damage, according to the report.

The report also said that 84 percent of health facilities have been damaged or destroyed, leaving the population with minimal access to healthcare in Gaza.

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Using assistance from the European Union, the report used remote data collection sources and analytics to provide a preliminary estimate on the scale of damage to Gaza's physical infrastructure.

The report, however, acknowledges that its initial findings underestimate the scale of damage in the Gaza Strip and stresses that a second analysis will be required.

A key recommendation of the report is to increase humanitarian assistance, food aid, food production and shelter for displaced Palestinians. 

The report comes as aid agencies have paused their delivery of humanitarian assistance after an Israeli strike killed seven aid workers from the charity World Central Kitchen.

The victims included Australian, Polish, British, American and Palestinian nationals. Israel, which said the strike was "unintentional", is facing pressure to explain the circumstances of the air strikes. 

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