A resort hotel overlooking the Mediterranean. A multistory courthouse built in 2018. Dozens of homes, obliterated in seconds, with the pull of a trigger. The damage caused by Israel’s aerial offensive in Gaza has been well documented. But Israeli ground forces have also carried out a wave of controlled explosions that has drastically changed the landscape in recent months.
In response to questions about the demolitions, a spokesperson for the Israeli military said that soldiers are “locating and destroying terror infrastructures embedded, among other things, inside buildings” in civilian areas — adding that sometimes entire neighborhoods act as “combat complexes” for Hamas fighters.
Israeli officials, who spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the issue, said that Israel wanted to demolish Palestinian buildings close to the border as part of an effort to create a security “buffer zone” inside Gaza, making it harder for fighters to carry out cross-border attacks like the ones in southern Israel on Oct. 7. But most of the demolition locations identified by The Times occurred well outside the so-called buffer zone. And the number of confirmed demolitions — based on the availability of visual evidence — may represent only a portion of the actual number carried out by Israel since the war began.
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A Guardian investigation has detailed the mass destruction of buildings and land in three neighbourhoods in Gaza.
Using satellite imagery and open-source evidence, the investigation found damage to more than 250 residential buildings, 17 schools and universities, 16 mosques, three hospitals, three cemeteries and 150 agricultural greenhouses. Entire buildings have been levelled, fields flattened and places of worship wiped off the map in the course of Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza, launched after the Hamas attack on Israel on 7 October.
The destruction has not only forced 1.9 million people to leave their homes but also made it impossible for many to return.
This has led some experts to describe what is happening in Gaza as “domicide”, defined as the widespread, deliberate destruction of the home to make it uninhabitable, preventing the return of displaced people. The concept is not recognised in law.