Khan Younis Is 'Unfit for Life'

Palestinians return to find demolished homes, little else but rubble
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 8, 2024 8:04 AM CDT
Khan Younis Is 'Unfit for Life'
Palestinians inspect the destruction left by the Israeli air and ground offensive after they withdrew from Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Sunday, April 7, 2024.   (AP Photo/Ismael Abu Dayyah)

Streams of Palestinians filed into the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis on Monday to salvage what they could from the vast destruction left in the wake of Israel's offensive, a day after the Israeli military announced it was withdrawing troops from the area. Many came back to the Gaza Strip's second-largest city to find their former hometown unrecognizable, per the AP. With scores of buildings destroyed or damaged, piles of rubble now sit where apartments and businesses once did. Streets have been bulldozed. Schools and hospitals were damaged by the fighting. Israel sent troops to Khan Younis in December, part of its blistering ground offensive.

The war, now in its seventh month, has displaced most of the territory's 2.3 million people and left vast swaths of the beleaguered Gaza Strip uninhabitable. "Many areas, especially the city center, have become unfit for life," said Mahmoud Abdel-Ghani, who fled Khan Younis in December when Israel began its ground invasion of the city. "I found that my house and my neighbors' houses turned to rubble." Israel's withdrawal of troops from Khan Younis signaled the end of a key phase in its war against Hamas and brought Israeli troop levels in the tiny coastal enclave to one of the lowest since the war began.

Israel said the city was a major Hamas stronghold and its operation over the past few months killed thousands of militants and inflicted heavy damage to a vast network of tunnels used by Hamas to move weapons and fighters. It also claimed to have found evidence that hostages were held in the city. With no military presence in the city, Hamas could seek to regroup there as it has in other areas where the military has scaled back forces. The latest Israeli withdrawal also cleared the way for some Palestinians to make their way back to comb through the mountains of debris to try to retrieve any possessions that remained. On Sunday, lines of Palestinians could be seeing leaving Khan Younis with scant possessions, including a rolled-up mattress and a standing fan. There was little else but rubble, said one man. (More Gaza stories.)

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