Middle East war: Large parts of Khan Yunis in ruins

As of: December 9th, 2023 11:22 a.m

Israel has expanded the fight against Hamas to the entire Gaza Strip. The extent of the destruction is apparently considerable, particularly in the south with the large city of Khan Yunis.

It is Friday morning in Khan Yunis – the large city in the south of the Gaza Strip. Residents of an apartment block are in the process of saving some usable items amid the rubble. The outer walls no longer exist. Young men use a ladder to climb to the second floor to retrieve pillows and blankets from a living room.

Here, in the building, he lived with his family until a few hours ago, says 65-year-old Younis Al Hala-bi to the Reuters news agency. “We were sitting. The children were sleeping downstairs out of fear. It was after morning prayers. We didn’t see anything, we heard the shelling, but we didn’t think he was here. Then we looked and everything fell on us.” That is not life. “Death or destruction, it’s all the same, all the same. Those driven from their homes might as well be dead.”

Satellite images show the destruction

Two US geography professors from New York and Oregon regularly publish satellite maps of the Gaza Strip, which are now considered a largely reliable measure of the destroyed and damaged residential areas in the war zone. The two scientists have been evaluating the images from the Copernicus Sentinel 1 satellite since October 12th.

The most recent evaluation is from December 4th. Accordingly, around a third of all buildings in the entire Gaza Strip are probably damaged or destroyed. In the northern Gaza Strip, half to two-thirds of the buildings are affected.

According to their estimates, the destruction on this scale is now also happening in the south of the Gaza Strip. The scientists report on the short message service This is a sign that the war has moved south.

Israel: Hamas uses people as shields

Eylon Levy, spokesman for the Israeli government, counters: It is due to Hamas and its guerrilla tactics, which have misused civilian facilities throughout the Gaza Strip for their own purposes. The soldiers find new evidence of this every day. “Israeli forces continue to expose Hamas’ crimes against humanity,” he said. The terrorist organization is establishing itself in civilian areas and barricading itself behind human shields.

The UN relief agency for the Palestinians, UNWRA, puts the number of so-called internally displaced people at an estimated “almost 1.9 million people.” That corresponds to 85 percent of the total population of the Gaza Strip. According to the UN, over 60 percent of the buildings along the entire coastal strip have been destroyed or damaged.

Return questionable

Given the destruction of the buildings, it seems extremely questionable whether and under what circumstances people will be able to return to their home regions, their neighborhoods and apartments. In Khan Yunis, 65-year-old Younis Al-Halabi stands in front of the ruins of his home: “Out of nowhere, I saw everything falling on our heads. I swear, for me, destruction and death are one.” There is also a need for peace and security.

“We lived alone and had nothing to do with anyone. All our neighbors can testify that we did not interfere in anyone’s affairs. We were completely alone – respectful and trustworthy people.”

Clemens Verenkotte, BR, currently ARD Tel Aviv, tagesschau, December 9th, 2023 11:29 a.m

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