ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 142

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World Bank report finds 45% of residential buildings in Gaza ruined beyond repair

Heaviest damage estimated in north Gaza and Gaza City area, where some 60% of residential structures were destroyed and thousands more impacted, leaving over 1 million homeless

A picture taken from southern Israel shows destroyed buildings in the Gaza Strip on January 17, 2024. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
A picture taken from southern Israel shows destroyed buildings in the Gaza Strip on January 17, 2024. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)

Some 45 percent of residential buildings in the Gaza Strip have been destroyed since war erupted between Israel and Hamas on October 7, leaving over 1 million people homeless, according to a World Bank study based on satellite images and media accounts.

According to data collected by the international body, over 60% of residential buildings in the Gaza Strip, or 132,590 structures, have been damaged amid the war, which has seen Israel bombard the enclave from land, air and sea for over three months in a campaign to destroy the Hamas terror group and free hostages kidnapped on October 7.

The figure includes 99,601 structures reported to have been destroyed and rendered uninhabitable, out of a projected 218,656 residential buildings in the Strip before the war, according to the World Bank’s estimates.

The body calculated that the destruction had left 1,076,619 Gazans without a home, out of a population of some 2.2 million.

The figures, which were distributed to diplomats in a bi-weekly interim report obtained by The Times of Israel, were first reported by the paper’s Hebrew sister site Zman Yisrael on Sunday.

Israel launched its military campaign after Hamas’s October 7 massacre, during which some 3,000 terrorists burst into Israel from Gaza, killing some 1,200 people and seizing 253 hostages, mostly civilians.

According to the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza, over 25,000 people have been killed in the fighting, though these figures cannot be independently verified, and are believed to include both civilians and Hamas members killed in Gaza, including as a consequence of terror groups’ own rocket misfires.

The IDF says it has killed over 9,000 operatives in Gaza, in addition to some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel on October 7. More than 200 IDF soldiers have been killed in Gaza.

The report found that the heaviest damage occurred in and around Gaza City, where much of the fighting was focused in the first two months of the war. Out of nearly 55,000 homes, just over 34,000 had been destroyed, while another approximately 3,000 suffered lighter damage.

Palestinians look at the destruction after an Israeli strike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2024. (AP/Fatima Shbair)

Other parts of northern Gaza saw similar levels of ruin, with nearly 24,000 out of 40,000 buildings destroyed and another 800 homes in the area damaged.

By contrast, in the far southern city of Rafah and its environs, where fighting has been far less intense, fewer than 8,000 buildings out of over 33,000 were destroyed, though another approximately 11,000 were damaged.

The study — which is based on an analysis of satellite imaging, news reports, including social media, and eyewitness accounts — found even higher levels of wreckage among other structures, including some 46% of the Strip’s nearly 45,000 commercial and industrial buildings destroyed, and another 34% damaged.

Palestinians inspect the damage after an Israeli strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, December 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Hatem Ali)

Among the Strip’s 45 municipal service buildings, 56% were completely ruined and 22% had suffered lighter damage. Impacted buildings included one of Gaza’s two fire stations, eight of 11 police stations, four of its six sewage treatment plants, and all eight town halls.

According to the data, just under 50% of the Strip’s 969 educational facilities were destroyed, while another 33% were damaged.

Infrastructure has also been hard hit, with an estimated 92% of major roads having been damaged, and over 50% completely destroyed. Half of the Strip’s power infrastructure has been destroyed in the war, the study found.

The fighting has also damaged or destroyed scores of homes in Israel, largely from rocket attacks including on the northern border, as well as due to fighting inside Israeli communities invaded on October 7.

Destruction caused by Hamas on Kibbutz Be’eri, near the Israeli-Gaza border, in southern Israel, seen on October 19, 2023. (Erik Marmor/Flash90)

The Israel Defense Forces maintains that Hamas, which rules the Strip, purposely situated military assets within residential areas and is therefore to blame for the high level of destruction in the crowded enclave.

The UN estimates that some 1.9 million Gazans are currently displaced due to the war, with many being forced to find shelter in tent cities or makeshift camps and slums sprouting up in parts of the Strip.

Youths play at a makeshift tent camp for displaced Palestinians in Rafah near the border with Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip, on January 21, 2024 amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. (Photo by AFP)

A source from a humanitarian organization currently operating in Gaza called the level of damage in Gaza unprecedented.

“In the 2014 Gaza war, thousands of buildings were destroyed, but the destruction didn’t reach the point of people living in tents. A few thousand people had to stay with relatives,” they said. “The repair of damage from the current war will cost tens of billions of dollars and will take years, in the optimistic scenario that there will be someone who will take it on.”

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