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After the Cease-Fire, Gaza Wakes to a Sea of Rubble

The damage in Gaza was incomparable.

Israeli airstrikes killed more than 230 people, destroyed more than 1,000 housing and commercial units, rendered more than 750 uninhabitable, and displaced more than 77,000 people, according to tallies compiled by Gazan officials and the United Nations. Seventeen clinics and hospitals were damaged, as well as three major desalination plants, power lines and sewage works, leaving 800,000 residents, or nearly half the population, without easy access to clean drinking water, the United Nations added. More than 53 schools were damaged.

The destruction compounds a long-term economic crisis in Gaza, where the unemployment rate hovers around 50 percent. Israel and Egypt enforce a blockade on Gaza to restrict the flow of weapons and munitions to Hamas, which much of the world considers a terrorist organization. The two countries restrict who and what can enter the enclave, and control much of its energy supply, while Israel alone controls its airspace, maritime fishing rights, birth registry and cellular data.

The casualties and damage caused by this month’s war are far less than those wrought by the one in 2014, when Israeli ground forces invaded and more than 2,200 people were killed during a 50-day conflict.

But for many Palestinians, it was enough to give the cease-fire a sense of déjà vu, instead of just a feeling of relief. Israel and Hamas have faced off a half-dozen times in the last decade and a half, in confrontations that often left considerable damage to civilian infrastructure.

“Whenever there is a war in Gaza, it sets us back 20 years,” said Mr. Abul Ouf. “Whenever we try to improve the economy, they destroy it.”


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