The Guardian • Issue #2089



Hannah Middleton

Domicide is a new word, defined as “the planned, deliberate destruction of someone’s home, causing suffering to the dweller.”

On 30 January, the BBC reported that more than half of Gaza’s buildings have been damaged or destroyed since Israel launched its invasion after the Hamas attacks of 7 October.

Satellite imagery suggests that between 144,000 and 175,000 buildings across the whole Gaza Strip have been damaged or destroyed. That’s between 50 and 61 per cent of Gaza’s buildings.

This is domicide – the mass destruction of dwellings to make the territory uninhabitable.

In a 4 November video, Yogev Bar-Shesht, deputy head of the Civil Administration, said in an interview from inside Gaza: “Whoever returns here, if they return here after, will find scorched earth. No houses, no agriculture, no nothing. They have no future.”

Across Gaza, residential areas have been left ruined, busy shopping streets reduced to rubble, universities, schools and mosques destroyed and farmlands churned up, with tent cities springing up on the southern border to house many thousands of people left homeless.


The scale of the infrastructure damage is part of a covert plan to expel Palestinians from Gaza.

Leaks from inside the Israeli government, show officials have been examining ways to force Palestinians to leave Gaza, either voluntarily or forcibly.

Giora Eiland, a former head of the Israeli national security council, wrote in an Israeli newspaper: “The state of Israel has no choice but to turn Gaza into a place that is temporarily or permanently impossible to live in. Creating a severe humanitarian crisis in Gaza is a necessary means to achieve the goal … Gaza will become a place where no human being can exist.”

When it launched its campaign against Hamas, Israel told Palestinians living in north and central Gaza to move south for their own safety.

About 1.7 million people – more than 80 per cent of Gaza’s population – are displaced, with nearly half crammed in the far southern end of the strip, many in and around the city of Rafah.

Now Rafah is being bombed.

The IDF has repeatedly justified its actions by noting that Hamas deliberately embeds itself in civilian areas and explained destruction of buildings in the light of targeting fighters. But questions have been asked about destruction of buildings in the control of the IDF.

One example was Israa University, in northern Gaza. It was badly damaged but then blown up completely in a massive explosion. The IDF now says the approval process for the blast is being investigated.


Gaza’s antiquities ministry has accused Israel of bombing the enclave’s historical and archaeological sites.

A recent report by Al Jazeera estimates that at least 195 sites of historical importance, some dating back 4,000 years, have been damaged or destroyed.

An ancient harbour dating back to 800 BC, a mosque that was home to rare manuscripts and one of the world’s oldest Christian monasteries are just a few of at least 195 heritage sites that have been destroyed or damaged since Israel’s war on Gaza began on 7 October.


Large areas of previously cultivated land across Gaza have been extensively damaged.

Although Gaza was heavily dependent on imports before the start of the war, much food came from farming and food production inside the strip.

Conflicts such as those in Syria and Ukraine have shown rehabilitating farmlands is extremely difficult.

Unexploded weapons make it dangerous for farmers to return and work.

Cleaning contaminated land and rebuilding infrastructure such as water, energy and transport systems are also considerable challenges.

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