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Armed Conflicts

The ‘Flattening’ of Gaza

A main water line was severed when Israeli bombing destroyed a central Gaza bridge. Credit: Eva Bartlett/IPS

GAZA CITY, Dec 25 2012 (IPS) - On Nov. 17, four days into Israel’s eight-day assault on the Gaza Strip, deputy Israeli Prime Minister Eli Yishai publicly called for the Israeli army to “blow Gaza back to the Middle Ages, destroying all the infrastructure including roads and water”.

The following day, Gilad Sharon, son of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, called for Israel to “flatten entire neighbourhoods in Gaza. Flatten all of Gaza. There should be no electricity in Gaza, no gasoline or moving vehicles, nothing”, adding, “there is no middle path here – either the Gazans and their infrastructure are made to pay the price, or we reoccupy the entire Gaza Strip.”

Now, nearly a month after the Israel-Hamas cease-fire, the government and international bodies in Gaza are still assessing the total damage caused by Israeli bombings on infrastructure throughout the Strip.

Preliminary estimates put direct damage at 250 million dollars, with another 700 million dollars in indirect damages, according to Hamas Government Spokesperson Taher al Nanu.

In more tangible terms, the vast destruction and varying levels of damage include: bridges, thousands of homes, hundreds of U.N. shelters, tens of mosques, many government buildings, media offices, financial institutions, hospitals and health centres, two stadiums, a training centre for disabled athletes, water and sewage and electricity networks, over 100 schools,  Gaza’s “life-line” tunnels, and innumerable roads.

During the Israeli bombings, Al Jazeera reported that 400,000 people were without electricity after five different transformers were hit.

After the cease-fire, the extent of damage on the electrical network became clearer.

In addition to the five known damaged transformers, another 32 throughout the Strip were destroyed or damaged by Israeli bombings, according to the Gaza Electricity Distribution Corporation (GEDCo).

“We reconnected most of the damaged lines during the attacks. But we need to correct those temporary repairs because they were not done according to technical standards,” says Usama Dabbour, from GEDCo’s external relations department.

“There are still approximately 5,000 people without power throughout the border regions. We cannot reconnect them because it is still too dangerous to go there, despite the cease-fire,” he says.

Damages also include severed electrical wires, felled poles, GEDCo vehicles, and a tank-shelled company warehouse.

“We have 5.5 million shekels in direct damages, and 7.7 billion Israeli shekels in indirect damages,” says Dabbour.

This is not the first time the Israeli army has targeted Gaza’s electricity network.

“Every time the Israelis declare war on Gaza, they damage the electricity network,” says Dabbour.

According to the United Nations Development Programme(UNDP), the 2008-2009 Israeli bombings of Gaza inflicted 10.4 million dollars in damages to the electricity network.

Since the 2006 bombing of Gaza’s sole power plant, the entire Strip has been under scheduled and non-scheduled daily power outages, sometimes lasting longer than eighteen hours at a stretch.

The Strip’s water and sanitation networks were also hit by Israeli bombs.

Ibrahim al-Aleja, communications officer at Gaza’s Coastal Municipalities Water Utility (CMWU), notes that damage to water and sanitation networks extends throughout the Strip.

Some of the most severe damage, from Beit Hanoun to Rafah, includes underground piping blasted apart by Israeli bombings of civilian streets, homes and in open areas. Reservoirs were targeted. “They destroyed a reservoir in Khoza’a, east of Khan Younis. It was no threat to the Israelis,” says al-Aleja.

Two waste water wells in the same village were also hit by bombs.

In Khan Younis, Israeli attacks damaged a storage facility holding 350,000 litres of water, as well as a major line in the Amal neighbourhood of Khan Younis, says al-Aleja.

Parts of central Gaza’s Nusseirat and Mughraqa towns are still without water.

“When the Israelis bombed a bridge between the two areas, they destroyed a water pipe underneath it. There are still 20,000 people without water in that area,” he says.

Bassam Abu Dahrouj (14) climbs down the steep slope of the severed bridge. The Nov. 21 Israeli bombing marked the fourth time this bridge has been destroyed, the teenager says.

“Over half of the families in Mughraqa use this bridge, and children use it to get to school,” says Abu Dahrouj. “Now, they have to use a long detour.” Some, however, don’t bother with the detour. As he speaks, two children climb up the cement wall of the valley the bridge crossed.

But “In winter, the Israelis open their dams and flood the valley. It gets very high and no one can cross the valley at that time,” he says.

Further west, the coastal road bridge linking central Gaza to the north is likewise severed. Tangles of concrete and metal rods, building materials hard to come by in Gaza under Israeli siege, lie in heaps, some of the metal being pounded out for re-sale in construction use.

On the south side of the demolished bridge, a line of shared taxis ventures onto the muddy valley floor, opting for a bumpy but shorter detour than that of Gaza’s north-south Salah el Din street many kilometres east. A temporary fix, it will be unusable during the winter months when heavy rains flood the valley.

Early estimates include 20 million dollars in agricultural damage, 136 schools and kindergartens damaged or destroyed, and 450 houses destroyed or severely damaged, leaving 3,000 people still displaced, according to the U.N.

Deputy Prime Minister Eli Yishai, who on Nov. 17 called for the annihilation of Gaza, said following the 2009 Israeli war on Gaza that “even if they fire at an open area or into the sea, we must damage their infrastructures and destroy 100 houses”.

The Hague Relations and the Geneva Conventions prohibit “the unnecessary destruction of the enemy’s property”, and the “extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly”.


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  • originalone

    The scenes as well as the story, are mind boggling to say the least. I haven’t seen any pictures of the destruction nor any real dialog about the continual destruction that the Israeli military inflict upon the Gaza strip. The very comments made in this story, should be a slap in the face of any & all western countries that believe in human rights. It’s past due that the Israeli leaders are taken to task for their violations of what is right and wrong. The question that should be out front on every ones lips, is why the world should the Israelis be given carte blanc in treating the Palestinians like the Germans treated the Jews? We have listened to the Holocaust story ever since it became known, it’s always thrust in our faces when ever anyone dares to question the continual theft of land, the destruction/killing of innocent civilian women & children, but refuse to seek peace. The world is turning against Israel for the actions, one day it may find itself standing alone, without the U.S. as it’s guarantor, perhaps sooner then they think.

  • Fivish

    If the gaza s dont like it they can leave or live in peace. Its entirely up to them .

  • Andrew Richards

    Funny, that’s the sort of talk a Russian apologist would have made regarding the treatment of the Jews during the Pogroms. But then what else could you expect from anyone blindly supporting a regime which uses the genocide of Jews and other “undesirables” under the Nazis as a shield to commit ethnic cleansing, child beating, child torture, child rape, rape, torture and other war crimes. I suppose you think the Indigenous Australians and First Nations People were “terrorists” too.

  • Jose G. Velez

    I for one think that we Americans Should Not condone in anyway letting the Israeli government and its military force perform its “duty” of destroying Gaza and its people indiscriminately. The Israeli government are bullies to say the least. They and their armed forces are totally out of control. The US president should stand his ground and not support this kind of “mild holocaust” by the Israelis toward the Palestinian people. A few bombs that are not worthy of being called bombs should not give the Israeli government the authority to throw at the Palestinian people the best weapons money can buy. Weapons that are American or Israeli made. And to think that they, the Israelis voice their horrid and despicable hatred toward the Palestinians without any kind of remorse is just unforgivable. Their simply has to be a way out of this Madness. Hamas must stop their shelling and Israel must stop their bombing! Let the Palestinians live, let them have commerce and a way out of their poverty stricken life. This reminds me of the Polish Jews being concentrated into a small area by the Nazi/German regime. Now we see they, the Israelis also can do the same.

  • rhetorickiller

    WOW! We thought the democrat party’s media was bad?
    “Since. . . 1964, IPS has believed in the role of
    information as a precondition for lifting communities out of poverty and
    marginalization” ????????
    This TOTALLY INCOMPLETE and recklessly authored piece of trash disseminated as “news,” is simply, as bad as it gets.

    Not ONE mention of what led up to Israel’s “self limited” “not enough” RETALIATION, against a stalking, nightmarish Islamic group, hellbent on the destruction of ALL JEWS.
    How would all you “Palestinian” supporters like it if you couldn’t sit down at night and eat supper, without concern for a haphazardly fired rocket come slamming into your kitchen? How would you like to live in CONSTANT FEAR, that some Palestinian “neighbor” who sits on the other side of your yard fence, is going to toss a grenade over in your kids sandbox, or simply blow their head off while their playing?
    Let’s tell the truth IPS, THE WHOLE TRUTH and NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH!
    You know, this is exactly like a bunch of idiots demanding a prison’s death row clan be released from prison because, “killing is wrong,” and then, totally forgoing or acknowledging all the people they killed, sodomized and tortured that caused them to be their in the first place .. .
    As it is, IPS is now fully responsible for any and all further slaughtering of life from the Islamic foul that sets out to kill more innocent Israelis? And by the way, let’s also remember, it isn’t just Jews and Israeli’s being killed by Palestinians folks, there are American citizens in Israel, who are just as much a target as a Jew, who are also living in this total chaos as well!
    Just pitiful! PIT-E-FUL! SHAME ON IPS!!!!!!!!

  • ratami

    rhetorickiller, THE WHOLE TRUTH and NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH!

    When the UN. created the State of Israel little did they know they had created a monster a creature that would grow by feeding on the misery of others.
    Israel is a State where actions of human rights abuses against non Jews
    are looked upon as being a sport or some other form of entertainment as evidenced by viewing the posted Internet annual reports of Amnesty International and Human Rights that detail deliberate attacks by Israeli forces and settlers against civilian property and infrastructure.

    Israel, with its consistent refusal to comply to UN. Resolutions,
    International Law and articles of the Geneva Convention and as it has violated
    international humanitarian law more times than any other Country in the World and is without doubt the greatest threat to world peace and standards of behaviour the Human Rights Movement has worked so hard since WW2 to establish.

    rhetorickiller, I know its hard to admit but the TRUTH of the matter is
    Israel is a State without soul, conscience or honour that has covered
    itself not with glory but blood right from the beginning when Jewish groups carried
    out numerous hideous acts of terror that included such atrocities as the
    torture and murder of British soldiers, bombing of the King David Hotel on July
    22, 1946 the murders of Lord Moyne, British minister of state in the Middle
    East, Count Folke Bernadotte, a UN envoy, and numerous crimes as they went from village to village massacring the unarmed inhabitants.
    Menachem Begin even boasted of the wholesale massacre of the village of Deir Yassin on April 9, 1948 killing 254 Palestinian men, women, and children in his book “Revolt”

  • zlop

    Orchestrating Perpetual conflict,
    Zionists are skilled at pretending to be victims.

  • zlop

    “recklessly authored piece of trash disseminated as “news”

    Reckless not — One false flag after another
    The news covered up that “ISRAEL DID 9/11 – Dr.Alan Sabrosky”

  • okstar

    This is not a matter of wickedness on the side of the Isreali government nd its armed forces! They r trying to protect their people nd put it to the Hamas that they cannot eat their cake nd have it! Can u fold ur hands nd watch ur neighbor physically molest ur children when it is quite obvious that there’s a lot u can do? As long as the palestines support the shelling of isreali towns, what ever the isrealis throw back at them is justified!

tenticle fetish