Construction has started on the first homes that will be rebuilt in the Gaza Strip since the devastating war with Israel last summer destroyed much of the territory's infrastructure.

The long-awaited reconstruction began in Shijaiyah, a hard-hit neighborhood of Gaza City, on Thursday, giving residents a rare glimmer of hope.

Over 2,200 Palestinians, including hundreds of civilians, were killed in the 50-day war between Israel and the Islamic militant group Hamas, which governs Gaza. Seventy-three people on the Israeli side died.

The war destroyed 11,900 homes and damaged about 140,000 dwellings, according to the Palestinian Minister of Public Works Mufeed al-Hasayneh.

The first new houses are being rebuilt as part of a project funded by the Gulf monarchy Qatar to reconstruct 1,000 housing units.