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Qatar pledges $500 million for Gaza reconstruction

Cross-border fighting between Israel and Hamas appeared to abate slightly early on Tuesday, with no fatalities logged in Gaza for the first time since hostilities erupted on May 10, and fewer long-range Palestinian rocket attacks.

Qatar announced Wednesday it would provide $500 million for Gaza’s reconstruction after the Palestinian enclave was battered by Israeli air strikes in 11 days of hostilities between the Jewish state and armed Palestinian groups.

“The state of Qatar announces $500 million in support for the reconstruction of Gaza,” Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani tweeted.

Qatar is a key backer of the Islamist group Hamas that controls the Gaza Strip.

The funds aim to help Gazans “face the life challenges posed by the recent Israeli attacks, and to contribute to the reconstruction of service facilities in Gaza… in addition to the homes that were destroyed”, the official QNA news agency said.

The worst exchange of fire in years between Israel and armed Palestinian groups in the enclave started May 10 after clashes in Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound, Islam’s third holiest site, which is also revered by Jews as the Temple Mount.

In 11 days of fighting, Israeli air strikes and artillery fire on Gaza killed 254 Palestinians, including 66 children, and wounded more than 1,900 people the health ministry in Gaza says.

Rocket and other fire from Gaza claimed 12 lives in Israel, including one child and an Arab-Israeli teenager, an Israeli soldier, one Indian national and two Thai workers, medics say. Some 357 people in Israel were wounded.

Diplomatic efforts are underway to solidify a fragile Egypt-brokered truce that halted the fighting, with plans to rebuild the Gaza Strip where Israeli air strikes damaged infrastructure and levelled buildings.

Cairo last week also pledged $500 million towards reconstruction in the Palestinian enclave, which has been under Israeli blockade for nearly 15 years.

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