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Gaza Cease-fire Raises Hopes For Reconstruction

With a sullied face and wearing only his undergarments, Azzam gave up his search for valuables in the rubble of his destroyed home on a recent day. He sat down to take a break and do some math.

His mother's house was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike in 2009. Since then, he has barely managed to rebuild one of its two floors. A $25,000 grant he received from an Arab fund did not cover the costs, and materials for the project have been hard to come by.

The Hamas government has given him $1,000 to find a place to live for now, and each member of the extended family received a similar amount. With housing in tight supply and rents skyrocketing, Azzam said the money will not last long.

"As we look there are no places to begin with," he said. "If we find a place, rent will be around $300 or $400. Before it was $200."

Yasser al-Shanti, deputy of the ministry of public works and housing in the Hamas government, said construction materials will start flowing into Gaza again once the tunnels are up and running again.

But Hamas' real hope is that Israel and Egypt will lift border restrictions to allow large quantities of goods into the territory through proper border crossings. Hamas has high hopes for Egypt's new Islamist government, which is far more sympathetic to the Islamic group than the ousted regime of Hosni Mubarak.

The Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt is currently limited to foot traffic. Hamas, an offshoot of Egypt's ruling Muslim Brotherhood, wants Egypt to turn the crossing into a bustling cargo terminal.

"We expect that international and Arab institutions are ready to help. We don't expect to have a problem," al-Shanti said.

Hamas has put the damage to Gaza's civilian infrastructure at roughly $750 million, a sum that will probably have to be raised through special U.N. emergency appeals and donations from wealthy Arab countries.

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