GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Thousands of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are still living in schools where they took refuge during seven weeks of fighting between Hamas and Israel that ended late last month.
Israeli airstrikes have left much of the territory in ruins, and thousands of homes have been destroyed or severely damaged. Reconstruction has yet to begin as a blockade imposed by Egypt and Israel on Gaza still holds, severely restricting the import of cement and other building materials.
Israel fears militants could use such materials to build rockets and reinforce cross-border attack tunnels.
With a population of 1.8 million people, Gaza is a densely populated coastal strip of urban warrens and agricultural land that still bears the scars of previous rounds of fighting. The Islamic militant group Hamas seized power in the territory in 2007.
Rebuilding Gaza will take years, and some Palestinian officials say it could cost in excess of $6 billion.
In one school in Gaza City, visited by The Associated Press, children played in a courtyard surrounded by classrooms now framed with hanging bedding and laundry.
With nearly 100,000 Palestinians in Gaza having no home to go back to, the U.N.-run schools are still housing thousands just one week before the school year is scheduled to begin, posing a challenge to authorities.
Here are a series of images by AP photographer Khalil Hamra of the daily life of Palestinians sheltering in Gaza schools.
Follow Khalil Hamra on Twitter at www.twitter.com/khalil_hamra .
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