9 Jul 2015

Destruction in Gaza – a year after massive conflict

One year on Channel 4 News returns to Gaza on the anniversary of the conflict with Israel, in the devastated territory as children scavenge in the ruins of a mosque destroyed in the bombardment.

Palestinian refugees likened the present situation in Gaza Strip to a “time bomb” following last year’s conflict.

Israel’s 51-day conflict with Hamas in the Gaza Strip last summer killed 1,462 civilians, including 551 children, and injured many thousands across the area.

Quoting UN Relief and Works Agency Commissioner General Pierre Krahenbuhl, a UN spokesman said that “one year after the devastating Gaza conflict, the root causes of the conflict remain unaddressed”.

Mr Krahenbuhl said: “Resolute political action is required on a number of fronts to achieve the necessary change of paradigm in the strip, starting with a lifting of the blockade, ensuring rights and security for all, allowing increased exports from Gaza to stimulate economic recovery and freedom of movement for civilians.”

Hamas supporters marched through the streets of Gaza City on Wednesday night to mark the one year anniversary of the war.

During the rally a spokesman for Hamas’ military wing, the Qassam Brigades, unveiled two rockets named after two of their leaders killed in last year’s war, Mohammed Abu-Shamalah and Raed al-Attar.

A statue was also unveiled at the rally which showed a clenched fist holding the military identification of Shaul Aaron – an Israeli soldier killed in last year’s war.

Stephane Dujarric, UN secretary-general spokesman, has said “315 days after the ceasefire took effect, not a single totally destroyed house, of which there are over 12,000, has been rebuilt.

“This leaves some 120,000 people homeless, coming in addition to the high level of youth unemployment and lack of prospect for Gaza’s youth. This situation represents a time bomb for the region, said the commissioner general.”

In June a United Nations inquiry into the 2014 Gaza conflict accused both Israel and Palestinian factions of war crimes.

Gagging order

Today Israel claimed two Israeli citizens are being held in the Gaza Strip, at least one of them by the Hamas militant group.

Avraham Mangisto is reported to have independently crossed the border fence into the Gaza Strip in September last year, nearly two weeks after the end of the Israel-Gaza war.

The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said that “according to credible intelligence”, Mangisto is being held “against his will” by Hamas.

Israel’s military lifted a gagging order on Thursday to reveal details of the matter.