The United Nations has started assessing the damage and relief needs in the Gaza Strip on the first full day of a truce between Israel and Hamas, with the senior officials estimating that the bill could run into billions of dollars.
The United Nations is expected to issue an emergency appeal for fund to meet the immediate humanitarian needs which could run into hundreds of millions of dollars. This would not include the money needed for rebuilding and development.
Giving first reaction among 1.5 million Gazans, the officials said there was feeling of "overwhelming grief" as those who had fled their houses came back to found only debris and more bodies were dug out of the rubble.
"The pervasive sense among the population is one of overwhelming grief, so many families have been destroyed in so many ways," the top UN official in Gaza reported.
According to Palestinian figures that the UN has called credible, the toll from the thee week offensive, which Israel said it launched to stop Hamas rocket attacks, now stands at 1,340 dead, 460 of the children and 106 women, and 5,320 wounded, 1,855 of them children and 795 women, with a large proportion of the injuries severe, including burns and amputations. Thirteen Israeli were reported killed, including four from rocket fire.
Replying to questions, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes said that it might not be very clear who actually won this conflict, "if that concept means anything in Gaza.
"But it's pretty clear who lost and that's the civilian population of Gaza, and to a much lesser extent the civilian population of southern Israel," he said.