The people of Gaza are marking a year since the Israeli air raids that heralded the start of a war that left 2,251 Palestinians dead and thousands more wounded. 

The anniversary on Wednesday of last summer's war comes as the besieged territory struggles to rebuild its infrastructure, and tens of thousands of its people struggle to access basic amenities.

Al Jazeera spoke to Palestinians who said little was being done to help them recover and go on with their lives.

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One survivor, Ibrahim Abdeldaem, lost his legs in an Israeli air strike while his family was sheltering at a UN school in Gaza City. His father and brother were killed in the attack and one year later he said he had no hope that his life would get any better.

"I am completely destroyed. I've lost my legs. I've lost my job. I can't leave Gaza because we are under siege on all sides. All I want is at least one artificial limb to feel like a normal person again," Abdeldaem said.

Continuing siege

More than 12,000 homes were destroyed in the war and 100,000 damaged.

International donors including the US and Arab Gulf countries have pledged more than $5bn to help rebuild Gaza.

The director of The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), Robert Turner, criticised the blockade, calling on Israel to end immediately.

"The blockade remains in place and its crippling effect on Gaza is undeniable, inexcusable," Turner said during a press conference in the territory on Wednesday.


Gaza: A home among the ruins


"I see a real willingness on the part of Israel to address some of its worst impact."

Israel's economic siege, which has lasted for years, means badly needed construction materials like cement have not been allowed in, despite offers by the United Nations to oversee the process.

Around 20,000 Palestinians still live in temporary shelters ranging from cargo containers to makeshift tents in what is left of their bombed-out homes. 

Two-thirds of the 1.8 million population are recipients of UN aid in one form or another.

Turner said that help is needed for more than 7,000 homes to be rebuilt.

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The UN official said payments would be issued for the first time on Wednesday for a limited number of families whose homes were destroyed, while repairs for damaged houses have occurred.

Seventeen hospitals, 56 primary health facilities, and 45 ambulances were either damaged or completely destroyed during the conflict, costing Gaza's healthcare system an estimated $50m.

In addition to the Palestinian casualties, at least 73 people, including 67 soldiers, were killed on the Israeli side of the conflict.

Israel said it was conducting the campaign to put an end to rocket attacks launched by Hamas and other Palestinian factions, which together fired 4,881 rockets and 1,753 mortars during the war.

Imtiaz Tyab in Gaza contributed to this report. 

Many families in Gaza have been living in the ruins of their homes  [EPA]


Source: Al Jazeera And Agencies