(JTA) — Israel will allow the construction of 1,200 new homes and 18 schools in the southern Gaza Strip.
It will be one of the largest building projects in Gaza in years.
Israel’s Civil Administration made the announcement Tuesday, The Associated Press reported. The homes will replace some of the 60,000 houses the United Nations says were damaged or destroyed during Israel’s military offensive against Hamas in early 2009, as well as others destroyed in earlier operations in 2003 and 2004.
Since Hamas took control of the Strip in 2007, Israel has banned the entry of construction materials including cement, metal and glass, for fear they will be converted to violent use.
U.N. Spokesman Adnan Abu Hassna told reporters that he welcomed the announcement, and that the United Nations is awaiting the arrival of thousands of trucks full of construction materials so the building can begin. Abu Hassna said the projects are being funded by Japan and Saudi Arabia.