A resort hotel overlooking the Mediterranean. A multistory courthouse built in 2018. Dozens of homes, obliterated in seconds, with the pull of a trigger.
The damage caused by Israel’s aerial offensive in Gaza has been well documented. But Israeli ground forces have also carried out a wave of controlled explosions that has drastically changed the landscape in recent months.
At least 33 controlled demolitions have destroyed hundreds of buildings — including mosques, schools and entire sections of residential neighborhoods — since November, a New York Times analysis of Israeli military footage, social media videos and satellite imagery shows.
In response to questions about the demolitions, a spokesperson for the Israeli military said that soldiers are “locating and destroying terror infrastructures embedded, among other things, inside buildings” in civilian areas — adding that sometimes entire neighborhoods act as “combat complexes” for Hamas fighters.
Israeli officials, who spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the issue, said that Israel wanted to demolish Palestinian buildings close to the border as part of an effort to create a security “buffer zone” inside Gaza, making it harder for fighters to carry out cross-border attacks like the ones in southern Israel on Oct. 7.
But most of the demolition locations identified by The Times occurred well outside the so-called buffer zone. And the number of confirmed demolitions — based on the availability of visual evidence — may represent only a portion of the actual number carried out by Israel since the war began. [Continue reading…]