The reconstruction of Gaza is to cost $7.8 billion, according to Palestinian experts. Around 200,000 workers in the Gaza Strip are currently unemployed, say recent statistics, while the European Union has contributed €15.5 million to the early payment of August PA salaries and pensions.In a report published on Thursday, the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction (PECDAR) has warned that reconstruction of the Gaza Strip could take as long as five years, even ‘if Israel removed its blockade over Gaza entirely.’ According to the Palestinian News Network (PNN), the reports has been deemed the most comprehensive assessment yet of the damage inflicted by Israel’s recent 7-week assault on the region.

VIDEO: Gaza City’s Devastated Al-Shuja’eyya Suburb

Direct losses were estimated at $4.4 billion, of which $2.4 billion is needed to rebuild the 17,000 homes destroyed or damaged in the assault which has claimed over 2,000 lives to date.

The survey set a further cost of $3.02 billion for essential Gaza infrastructure, such as a seaport and a water desalination plant. The energy sector will need $250 million, following the destruction of Gaza’s only power plant, which was distrubuting, at most, 8 hours of electricity per day to residents, prior to the attack.

Money will also be needed in transportation, health, agriculture and finance sectors, and PECDAR estimates that the education system alone will need $143 million to recover.

See: 69% of Gaza Schools Damaged by Israeli Assaults

Mohammed Shtayyeh, Palestinian economist and senior Fatah member, declared to reporters that ‘the attack on Gaza this time had no precedent… Gaza has been hit with a catastrophe and it needs immediate help because many things can’t wait long’, emphasizing that reconstruction of the region would depend heavily upon foreign aid and would require an end to Palestinian rivalry and the continued closing of border crossings.

According to recent statistics figured by the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU), around 200,000 workers in the Gaza Strip — providing for some 900,000 people — are presently unemployed.

President of the PGFTU in Gaza, Sami Al-Amasi, states that before the recent Israeli aggression, the number of unemployed workers was up to 170 thousand, and that this status quo is the worst in ten years, Al Ray reports.

‘During the recent Israeli offensive, Israel destroyed a large number of factories, workshops, companies. As a result, almost 30,000 workers lost their source of living and became unemployed,’ he said, noting that unions are still waiting for Israel to fulfil its promises and to start applying the terms of the cease fire agreement.

In a related context, the European Union has recently contributed €15.5 million for the early payment of August salaries and pensions today. 69,000 Palestinian civil servants and pensioners of the Palestinian Authority will benefit from the measure in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, according to the Palestinian News Network (PNN).

EU representative John Gatt-Rutter collectively stated: ‘We are aware of the enormous financial challenges facing the Palestinian Authority while trying to meet its obligations toward public servants and pensioners in the aftermath of the conflict in Gaza. This contribution is a clear message of support and commitment at this very difficult time.’

He added that the EU is ‘deeply concerned about the disastrous humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip which requires immediate and unimpeded humanitarian access in accordance with international law. The latest round of violence has demonstrated once again the need for a comprehensive and sustainable solution for the Gaza Strip’.

The contribution comes as part of the EU’s 2014 financial committment to support the PA with its running expenditures.

The PNN further reports that, since February of 2008, around €1.6 billion has been disbursed through PEGASE, with more assistance provided to the Palestinian people through UNRWA and other cooperative projects.

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