Palestine Hamas Flags Gaza City
Palestinian and Hamas flags flutter atop the wreckage of a house, which witnesses said was destroyed during the seven-week Israeli offensive, in the east of Gaza CitySuhaib Salem/Reuters

Saudi Arabia has given $500m (£305m) to the rebuilding effort in the Gaza Strip following the 51-day conflict with Israel, according to Palestinian Prime Minister Rami al-Hamdallah.

"Saudi Arabia has initiated donations by pledging $500m," Hamdallah told reporters in Gaza via a video link from the occupied West Bank.

The donation from the Gulf state comes before a conference in Cairo next month which will see Palestinian leaders request more aid from other donors such as Turkey, Qatar, the European Union and the United States.

Gaza has been left in ruins with some 18,000 homes destroyed and more than 40,000 buildings damaged. Essential infrastructure such as water treatment plants, roads and bridges were extensively damaged during the conflict.

The estimated total cost of rebuilding the territory following the conflict is between $3bn and $7.8bn. However, donors may be put off by continuing tensions between the Islamist faction Hamas and Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah.

"All donor countries have made a condition, they want to deal with the unity government," said Hamdallah. "If the government is not enabled in the Gaza Strip, there will be problems over reconstruction."

Gazan economists also believe that 10,000 tonnes of cement is going to be required every day for the next six month in the reconstruction effort.

This week, Israel and Palestine agreed on a UN-brokered deal to import construction material to Gaza. The agreement will apparently bypass Hamas, which has ruled in the occupied Palestinian territory since 2007, in an attempt to stop materials entering the Gaza Strip being diverted from their civilian purpose.

In the recent seven-week conflict between Israel and the militant faction Hamas, over 2,100 Palestinians - mostly civilians - lost their lives. All but five of the 68 Israeli fatalities were soldiers.