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Experts Call Israel’s Military Campaign The Most Destructive In Recent History

According to experts, the Israeli military operation in Gaza is currently one of the bloodiest and most destructive in recent history.


The operation in less than two months resulted in more damage than the Allied bombardment of Germany during World War II or the destruction of Aleppo, Syria, between 2012 and 2016. In its three-year fight against the Islamic State organisation, it has killed far more civilians than the coalition led by the United States.


Little information regarding the kind of artillery and munitions the Israeli military is using in Gaza has been released. However, analysts are certain that the majority of the bombs launched on the besieged enclave were built in the United States based on analysis of attack footage and explosive fragments discovered on-site. They claim that among the weapons are "bunker-busters," which are 2,000 pounds (900 kg) and have killed hundreds of people in populated regions.


A cease-fire is being demanded by the international community considering the number of Palestinian deaths in Gaza has exceeded 20,000. Israel vows to keep going and says it intends to destroy Hamas' military capabilities after the group launched a cross-border rampage on October 7, killing 1,200 people and taking 240 as captives.


Credit: AP Photo/ Hatem Moussa


The Biden administration has kept up its weapons sales to Israel. However, because of what he described as Israel's "indiscriminate bombing," President Joe Biden stated last week that Israel was losing its international legitimacy.


Corey Scher of the CUNY Graduate Centre and Jamon Van Den Hoek of Oregon State University, experts in mapping damage during wartime, analysed Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellite data. They have found that over two-thirds of the overall structures in northern Gaza along with a quarter of buildings in the southern area of Khan Younis have been destroyed by Israel's offensive.


In just the first two weeks of Israel's southern offensive, they claimed, the percentage of destroyed buildings in the Khan Younis area virtually doubled. This encompasses tens of thousands of residences in addition to hospitals, schools, mosques, and shops.


According to U.N. observers, around 70% of Gaza's school buildings have sustained damage. Shelters for displaced civilians were provided by at least 56 damaged schools. The monitors said that three churches and 110 mosques were destroyed by Israeli strikes.


Israel accuses Hamas of civilian deaths by embedding militants in civilian infrastructures. These locations house Palestinians who have fled after receiving evacuation orders from Israel.


“Gaza is now a different color from space. It’s a different texture,” said Scher, who has mapped the devastation in other conflict zones, including Aleppo and Mariupol, alongside Van Den Hoek.


Source: AP Photo/Hatim Moussa


Destruction in Gaza has surpassed certain estimates of what the Allies caused in Germany in World War II. According to U.S. military historian Robert Pape, the Allies bombed 51 significant German cities and towns between 1942 and 1945, destroying between 40 and 50 per cent of their metropolitan districts.


According to Pape, this amounted to 10% of structures in Germany, whereas it was over 33% in Gaza, a crowded region that is only 140 square miles (360 square kilometres) in size.


“Gaza is one of the most intense civilian punishment campaigns in history,” stated Pape. “It now sits comfortably in the top quartile of the most devastating bombing campaigns ever.”


The 2017 airstrike on the Iraqi city of Mosul by the coalition led by the United States was regarded as one of the most severe on a city in decades. An analysis by the Associated Press at the time revealed that during the nine-month fight, about 10,000 civilians died, with a third being subjected to coalition shelling.


The coalition launched close to 15,000 attacks throughout Iraq between 2014 and 2017, to defeat IS according to Airwars, an independent organisation located in London that keeps tabs on current hostilities. The Israeli military, in contrast, reported last week that it had carried out 22,000 attacks in Gaza.


Source: AP Photo/Adel Hana


The Israeli military has not disclosed its weaponry. It states that each strike is approved by legal advisors to ensure that it conforms with international law. Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the army’s chief spokesman said, “We choose the right munition for each target — so it doesn’t cause unnecessary damage.”


By analysing satellite photos, films shared on social media, and bomb fragments discovered on the scene, weapons specialists have been able to draw conclusions. They claim that the findings only provide a glimpse of the entire extent of the air conflict.


According to Brian Castner, a weapons investigator with Amnesty International, bomb fragments of Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) bombs and smaller diameter bombs manufactured in the United States have been discovered in Gaza so far.


JDAM bombs include "bunker-busters," which are precision guided bombs that weigh 1,000 and 2,000 pounds (450 and 900 kg). “It turns earth to liquid,” stated Marc Garlasco, a former Pentagon defense official and a war crimes investigator for the U.N. “It pancakes entire buildings.”


According to him, anybody within roughly 30 metres (100 feet) of a 2,000-pound bomb detonating in the open would meet "instant death." Fragmentation that is lethal can spread out to 365 metres (1,200 feet).


Experts report that during an Oct. 31 attack on the urban Jabaliya refugee camp, more than 100 civilians were killed with a 2,000-pound bomb.


They also found parts of 2000-pound SPICE (Smart, Precise Impact, Cost-Effective) bombs, which have a GPS guidance system installed to improve aiming accuracy. While Castner claimed that the Israeli defence company Rafael produces the bombs, a recent State Department publication that The New York Times first received revealed some of the technology was developed domestically.


In addition, the Israeli military is launching "dumb" bombs without a target. A number of experts cited two images that the Israeli Air Force shared on social media at the beginning of the conflict, which showed fighter jets loaded with unguided bombs. Israel claims to have two objectives: eliminating Hamas and rescuing the 129 hostages that are withheld. Eleven weeks into the campaign, Israel claims to have destroyed hundreds of tunnel shafts, numerous Hamas locations, and 7,000 of the group's estimated 30,000–40,000 fighters. Leaders in Israel claim that the only way to release further captives is through severe military pressure.


However, other hostage families fear that their loved ones are in danger because of the bombing. Released during last month's week-long cease-fire, hostages described how their kidnappers had relocated them around to evade Israeli shelling. Although the claims could not be independently verified, Hamas has stated that Israeli bombs killed several hostages.


According to Efraim Inbar, chairman of the think tank Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, "Hamas is very entrenched within the civilian population," which explains why the degree of devastation is so high. He added that to prevent attacks on the advancing Israeli ground forces, a heavy bombardment of Hamas tunnels is necessary.


Edited by: Victoria Muzio


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