Palestinian experts say rebuilding Gaza could cost at least $7.8bn, in the most comprehensive assessment of the damage from the seven-week conflict with Israel.

The Palestinian Authority said on Thursday that the process of rebuilding whole neighbourhoods and vital infrastructure would take "five years if Israel removed its blockade over Gaza entirely".

"The attack on Gaza this time had no precedent, Gaza has been hit with a catastrophe and it needs immediate help," Palestinian economist, Mohammed Shtayyeh, told the Reuters.

Gaza has been hit with a catastrophe and it needs immediate help

Mohammed Shtayyeh, Palestinian economist

Shtayyeh of the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction, who published the report, said it would cost $2.5bn to rebuild 17,000 Gazan homes razed by Israeli bombings.

The report also said the energy sector would need $250m after Gaza's only power plant was destroyed, and the Palestinian Strip's education sector would need around $143m to get back on its feet.

About half a million children have been unable to return to their schools due to damage or because the buildings are being used to house refugees, and over 106,000 Gazans have been displaced to UN shelters and host families, according to the UN.

The assessment also earmarked $670m for an airport and sea port, a key demand by Hamas, the group that governs Gaza.

The remaining cost was allocated to the financial, health, agriculture, and transportation sectors, all of which suffered widespread damage during the war.

The Gaza strip, home to 1.8 million people and bordered by Israel and Egypt, was ravaged between July 8 and August 26 in its third war in six years.

The conflict cost the lives of more than 2,140 Gazans, destroyed thousands of homes, severely damaged the enclave's sole power plant and burnt dozens of factories.

Source: Agencies