GAZA CITY (AFP) - Muhammad Samuni and his fellow Gazans can do little more than pick apart the rubble a week after the end of Israel's war on Gaza, with major reconstruction efforts blocked because of closed borders. "At night we split up and each of us goes to sleep in a different house of relatives in Gaza," Samuni says as he uses rugs to build a makeshift tent on the ruins of his house in the war-ravaged Zeitun neighbourhood of Gaza City. "Then in the morning we come and sit here," says the 33-year-old. "It's the only thing we can do is sit here and wait." Israel's 22-day war on Gaza's Hamas rulers has left widespread destruction in the impoverished territory that has reeled from a blockade ever since the Islamists, pledged to the destruction of the Jewish state, seized power in June 2007. Samuni's neighbourhood in Gaza City was among the areas that bore the brunt of the assault. Seven days after Israel and Hamas declared mutual ceasefires, huge heaps of rubble line the dirt road. The metal shops, garages and chicken farm at the beginning of the street have all been destroyed by Israeli strikes. Children pick up Holy Quran pages through the stones of the destroyed Tawheed mosque. Members of the extended Samuni clan, one of the area's largest, mourn relatives and friends killed in the bombings and wait for aid promised by Hamas, the rival Palestinian leadership in the West Bank, and by international organisations. "We had 22 martyrs here," says Fares Samuni, 68, who lost his wife. "Since then I sleep in the street," he says. "People come here to take our names, but I don't know who they are. They all say they want to give us things, but we haven't received anything." In order to rebuild from the war that Palestinian officials estimate caused $1.9b worth of damage to Gaza's already beleaguered economy and infrastructure, construction materials must be allowed through the territory's crossings. But Israel has kept those crossings shut, saying it will cooperate with reconstruction efforts only if Hamas, which Israel brands a terror outfit, does not control them. "Any activity on the ground in Gaza, we will have to make sure it doesn't fall into the hands of Hamas," Welfare Minister Isaac Herzog, who has been charged with overseeing the delivery of humanitarian aid, told reporters on Sunday. Israel's outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said last week that "Hamas cannot ... be allowed to lead the reconstruction process in the strip and thereby gain some measure of legitimacy." Meanwhile, Tzipi Livni - leading the ruling Kadima party in the February 10 elections - has said that Israel will not open the borders without progress on the issue of Gilad Shalit, a serviceman captive in Gaza since 2006. Aid agencies, Hamas and Israel's main ally the US have all urged Israel to open the borders to the full flow of goods into the territory, one of the world's most densely-populated places. "We need crossing points into Gaza fully opened," UN humanitarian chief John Holmes said Friday after touring the territory. "We need to be able to do our job." Ahmed al-Kurd, the Hamas-appointed minister of social affairs overseeing reconstruction efforts, has called the continued closure a slow death for the territory of 1.5 million, half of them under the age of 18. "If they don't open the crossings, then there are only two paths before us, the blockade or war. And the blockade means a slow death," he told AFP. Until the crossings are opened, people like Lamia Ali Samuni, a 37-year-old mother of 10, can do little but sit on the ruins of her home. "My house was here, our crops, our fields were here," she says. "Now we have to live at friends' houses."