Egypt has sent a convoy of engineers and building equipment to Gaza to begin reconstruction in the Palestinian enclave after the recent Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Palestinians lined the street on the Gaza side of the Rafah crossing to welcome the convoy as it rumbled into the small coastal enclave. A Palestinian border official said 50 vehicles had crossed.
Dozens of bulldozers, cranes and trucks flying Egyptian flags lined up along the border to begin crossing into the Gaza Strip, television pictures showed.
“We rushed with all our money, equipment, and what we owned to join the Palestinians in the rebuilding. Every Muslim and every Egyptian wishes to take part in [the reconstruction],” Egyptian truck driver Mahmoud Ismail told our reporters in Gaza.
Eleven days of conflict between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist rulers of Gaza, erupted on May 10. More than 250 Palestinians were killed in hundreds of Israeli air strikes in Gaza. Rockets fired by Gaza militants killed 13 people in Israel.
Egypt played a major role in brokering a ceasefire between both sides and has said it would allocate $500 million to fund the rebuilding of devastated areas in Gaza.
Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem on Friday reiterated the group’s appreciation of Egyptian contributions to the rebuilding efforts.
Egypt in February opened the Rafah crossing until further notice after Palestinian factions moved towards reconciliation following talks in Cairo.
Gaza’s housing ministry said 1,500 housing units were destroyed during the fighting, another 1,500 housing units had been damaged beyond repair and 17,000 suffered partial damage. A ministry official put the cost of rebuilding at $150 million.
It had previously been opening the crossing for only a few days at a time to allow stranded travellers to pass. The 365-sq km (141-sq mile) Gaza Strip, controlled by Hamas, is home to around 2 million Palestinians. An Israeli-led blockade has put restrictions on the movement of people and goods for years.
This comes within the framework of the Egyptian efforts to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian citizen in the strip, restore the normal life of people in Gaza and start the reconstruction process.