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U.N. promises money to help repair Gaza Strip

Palestinians in the northern Gaza Strip gather around a fire as they burn rubbish taken from their house, which was damaged in the recent violence.

Associated Press

Palestinians in the northern Gaza Strip gather around a fire as they burn rubbish taken from their house, which was damaged in the recent violence.

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — The United Nations will quickly raise money for emergency repairs in the Gaza Strip, the world body's humanitarian chief promised Thursday after witnessing what he called shocking destruction from the three-week war between Israel and Hamas.

But U.N. aid chief John Holmes and other senior U.N. officials acknowledged they have no fallback plan if reconstruction is snagged by the power struggle between Gaza's militant Hamas rulers and their moderate Palestinian rivals in the West Bank.

Hamas, which seized power in Gaza in June 2007, insisted Thursday that it will not share control over reconstruction projects that initial estimates have said could cost up to $2-billion.

The international community is reluctant to funnel huge sums to Hamas, calling for the group to form a joint government with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Prospects for such a deal remain slim.

Israel has said one of the key objectives of its offensive against Hamas was to halt weapons smuggling. Hamas has fired thousands of rockets at Israel over the past eight years, and Israel says most of the weapons and explosives came in through smugglers' tunnels from Egypt.

Any cease-fire deal will be durable only if the basic demands of both sides are met. Israel insists on antismuggling guarantees, while Hamas wants open Gaza borders.

President Obama addressed both stands, saying he supported implementation of a "credible" system for stopping smuggling and calling for Gaza's borders to be opened for aid shipments, with "appropriate monitoring." He said Hamas must stop attacking Israel.

Hamas criticized Obama's comments, saying his approach will bring the U.S. failure in the region.

U.N. promises money to help repair Gaza Strip 01/22/09 [Last modified: Thursday, January 22, 2009 10:41pm]
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