More than 1,000 Palestinian families have taken possession of new apartments as part of a large Qatari-funded housing project in the Gaza Strip.

Saturday's units are the first batch of a 3,000-apartment complex that was announced when the former Qatari ruler, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, became the first head of state to visit Hamas-ruled Gaza in 2012.

Hamad City sits on dunes that were part of the former Jewish settlement of Gush Katif. They started before the Israel-Hamas war in 2014 that damaged or destroyed nearly 100,000 homes.

Qatar allocated $145 million for Hamad City. The Qatari envoy overseeing the project, Mohammed al-Amadi, says Gaza needs 130,000 housing units. Ismail Haniya, the Hamas chief in Gaza, called the completion of the first stage "a historic moment."