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More than half of Gaza’s buildings damaged or destroyed, BBC analysis reports

In a recent report by the BBC, it has been revealed that more than half of the buildings in Gaza have suffered damage or been destroyed as a result of Israeli retaliation following the Hamas attacks on October 7. This alarming statistic was disclosed in a detailed analysis that includes before-and-after imagery, showing the severe bombardment that has particularly ravaged southern and central Gaza since early December.

The city of Khan Younis has been at the epicenter of Israel’s military action, bearing a significant portion of the destruction. As per the latest data, over 38,000 buildings in Khan Younis alone have been either damaged or destroyed, accounting for more than 46% of the city’s structures. This includes the Al-Farra Tower, a notable 16-story residential block, which was demolished on January 9.

The destruction has had a profound impact on the civilian population. Approximately 1.7 million people, which is over 80% of Gaza’s population, have been displaced. Residential areas, shopping streets, universities, and farmlands have been severely impacted. The United Nations reports that nearly half of the displaced population is crammed in the far southern end of the Gaza Strip.

BBC Verify’s further analysis has brought to light the extent of farmland destruction, identifying multiple areas with significant damage. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) maintains that its targets have been Hamas fighters and “terror infrastructure.” However, the scale and nature of the destruction have raised questions internationally.

Academics Corey Scher of City University of New York and Jamon Van Den Hoek of Oregon State University have conducted an analysis using satellite data, suggesting that between 144,000 and 175,000 buildings across Gaza have been damaged or destroyed, which is 50% to 61% of the total buildings.

The conflict has also led to substantial damage to Gaza’s farmlands, vital for the region’s food security. Large areas of cultivated land have been destroyed, with the BBC reporting that about half of Gaza’s population is now facing starvation. The destruction aligns with the construction of temporary Israeli defenses, including earth banks and clearing of surrounding land.

The impact extends beyond material damage. Historic sites like the al-Omari Mosque, dating back to the 7th Century, have also suffered. The damage to Gaza’s agriculture is expected to have lasting effects, similar to those seen in conflict zones like Syria and Ukraine.

A striking development is the emergence of tent cities along the southern border, housing thousands of displaced individuals. Satellite images from December to January show a dramatic transformation of the landscape, with nearly every patch of undeveloped ground in north-west Rafah turned into a refuge.

This situation in Gaza remains critical, with a significant portion of the population displaced and key infrastructure severely damaged or destroyed. The international community continues to monitor the developments closely.