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Building destroyed in Israeli airstrike in southern Gaza Strip: evidence of 900-kilogram "bunker bombs"

Photo: Ahmad Hasaballah / Getty Images

The Israeli military campaign in the Gaza Strip is one of the deadliest and most destructive in history, according to experts such as US military historian Robert Pape. In just over two months, the Israeli offensive has caused more destruction than the attacks on Syria's Aleppo between 2012 and 2016, the siege of the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, or, relatively speaking, the Allied bombing of Germany in World War II, according to an analysis of satellite data. According to another investigation, more civilians were killed than the US-led coalition killed in its three-year campaign against the Islamic State group.

The Palestinian death toll in the Gaza Strip is now estimated at nearly 20,000, and the international community is calling for a ceasefire. Israel wants to destroy Hamas' military assets after the terror group launched the war on October 7 with its cross-border attack in which it killed some 1200,240 people and took <> others hostage.

About 70 percent of school buildings in Gaza damaged

The Israeli offensive has destroyed more than two-thirds of all buildings in the northern Gaza Strip and a quarter of the buildings in the southern area of Khan Yunis. This is the result of an analysis of satellite data by the CUNY Graduate Center and Oregon State University.

In the first two weeks of the Israeli offensive in the south of the country alone, the proportion of damaged buildings in the Khan Yunis region almost doubled.

This includes tens of thousands of homes, as well as schools, hospitals, mosques and shops. According to UN observers, about 70 percent of the school buildings in the Gaza Strip have been damaged. At least 56 damaged schools served as emergency shelters for displaced civilians. The Israeli attacks have damaged 110 mosques and three churches, observers said. Israel blames Hamas for the deaths of civilians because the group hides fighters and weapons in civilian infrastructure.

By certain standards, the destruction in Gaza is greater than that of the Allied bombing of Germany during World War II.

Between 1942 and 1945, the Allies attacked 51 major German cities, destroying about 40 to 50 percent of the city's territory, according to U.S. military historian Robert Pape. According to Pape, this represented 10 percent of buildings in Germany, compared to over 33 percent in Gaza, a densely populated area of just 360 square kilometers.

"One of the most intense civilian destruction campaigns in history"

"Gaza is one of the most intense civilian demolition campaigns in history," Pape said. The conflict is now "in the top quarter of the most devastating bombing of all time."

The 2017 attack by the U.S.-led coalition to drive the Islamic State group out of the Iraqi city of Mosul was considered one of the most intense attacks on a city in generations. Around 10,000 civilians were killed in the nine-month battle, a third of them by coalition bombing. This was the result of an investigation by the AP news agency.

During the 2014-2017 campaign to defeat ISIS in Iraq, the coalition carried out nearly 15,000 strikes across the country, according to the monitoring NGO Airwars. By comparison, the Israeli military said last week it had carried out 22,000 strikes in the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli military has rarely commented on what kind of bombs and artillery it uses in the Gaza Strip. But based on explosion fragments found at the site and analysis of film footage, experts are convinced that the vast majority of bombs dropped on the besieged enclave are US-made. The weapons include 900-kilogram "bunker bombs," which have already killed scores of people in the densely populated areas of the Gaza Strip.

The extent of the destruction is so high because "Hamas is very much anchored in the civilian population," says Efraim Inbar, head of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security. He also said that the intensive bombing of the Hamas tunnels was necessary to protect the advancing Israeli ground forces from attacks.

US President Joe Biden's administration has continued to supply weapons to Israel in the background. Last week, however, Biden publicly admitted that Israel is losing international legitimacy for its "indiscriminate bombing."