OPT: Rebuilding Gaza airport costs 30 million Euros: official

GAZA, Jul 11, 2005 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- A senior Palestinian official said on Monday that rebuilding and renovating Gaza Airport that was built in 1998 in southern Gaza Strip will at least cost 30 million Euros (39 million US dollars).

Brigadier Salman Abu Haleeb, Palestinian Aviation Authority chief told reporters that rebuilding the airport's runway and renovating its buildings would cost 30 million Euros according to foreign experts' estimations.

Abu Haleeb said that during the Palestinian intifada, or uprising, the Israeli army stormed the airport several times, razing essential parts of the runway and several buildings.

"The destruction of the airport means that the Israeli army does not want this airport to be fixed and repaired," he said.

Gaza Airport was built in 1998 thanks to fund from Germany, Spain and loans from the Islamic Bank.

Israel shut down Gaza Airport a few months after the intifada began in late September 2000.

"The Palestinian Aviation Authority is ready to rebuild and renovate the airport which will be called Yasser Arafat International Airport," said Abu Haleeb.

In a meeting with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas a few weeks ago, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said the Palestinians can build seaports and rebuild the airport after Israel implements its disengagement plan.

Under the plan, Israel is expected to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and parts of northern West Bank in mid-August.