June 20, 2024

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inside the wreckage of north Gaza

2 min read

The beachfront in Gaza has been churned up by war. Ragged parasols poke out of the sand, next to a buckled lifeguard’s chair. And just to one side is the incongruous sight of a Hamas missile launch pad with 20 rockets aimed, said the Israeli army, at Tel Aviv.

“This is a beach, the kind used by normal civilians like us,” said Major Maayan of the Israel Defense Forces engineering corps. “But they also store rockets here. Typical Hamas.”

A short time later, IDF sappers rig the pad with explosives and blow it up, sending a fireball into the sky and a dust cloud that blots out the sun. The smell of burning spreads across the seafront.

It is another small operation in what is turning into the deadliest war in the long, bitter conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, a reckoning of sorts that has ratcheted up tensions across the Middle East and is reverberating across the societies of Europe and the US.

As pressure mounts on Israel to agree to a humanitarian ceasefire, its army took a group of foreign journalists to Gaza on Thursday to justify the military tactics that they are deploying against Hamas, a foe that is embedded in the civilian fabric of the enclave.

The group saw a hellscape reminiscent of Stalingrad, Grozny or Aleppo. At times, it seemed not a single building had been spared the destruction.

The IDF blew up stores of rockets that had been left by Hamas on a beach in Gaza © Guy Chazan/FT

Normally one of the most densely-populated areas on earth, northern Gaza is eerily empty. From the start of the war, Israel has been ordering its inhabitants to move south, away from the fighting, a process that aid groups have denounced as a forced displacement.

Vast numbers have heeded the warnings to relocate, although thousands remain in pockets of northern Gaza, some prevented from leaving by poor health. UN agencies said that even in the south, civilians are not safe from Israeli strikes, while Israel’s siege of the strip, home to 2.3mn people, has…

2023-11-10 07:15:33

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