CAIRO, January 16 - Extensive Israeli airstrikes and ground operations in the Gaza Strip have caused $1.4 billion worth of damage to the enclave's economy, the Palestinian National Authority said on Friday.
According to a statistical report, shelling has damaged 20,000 buildings, 4,000 of which have been destroyed completely, and some 26,000 civilians are without homes and are living in temporary shelters.
The Palestinian report also states that 18 schools, university buildings and administrative buildings have been destroyed. Bridges and electrical, water and sewer lines have also been destroyed due to Israel's military operations in Gaza, which began on December 27 in what Israel said was an attempt to put an end to rocket attacks from the Hamas-controlled enclave.
Since the beginning of the operation, over 1,100 Palestinians have been killed, more than half of them civilians, according to the Palestinian health ministry. Israel's casualties have been estimated at 13 people, including 10 military personnel.
Russia urged on Friday the international community to spare no effort to implement an Egyptian ceasefire plan.
"The initiative that our Egyptian colleagues have proposed and continue promoting is optimal, and we believe everything possible should be done to support it," Sergei Lavrov said, reiterating an earlier proposal to hold a conference on the Middle East peace process in Moscow.
Despite international pressure, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said that Israel will only call a halt to its operations in Gaza if Palestinian militants stop firing rockets on Israel's southern territories and cease smuggling arms into the enclave of 1.5 million.
Hamas insists on an end to Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip, in effect since the radical Islamist group seized the territory of the Palestinian enclave in June 2007, and an opening up of crossing points for normal traffic.
Source: RIA Novosti