Gaza conflict: Aerial video shows scale of destruction

A screenshot from virtual map site depicting the damage of the conflict in Gaza.

The scale of the destruction from the Gaza conflict can be seen in aerial video footage and satellite images posted online.

As the dust settles from the truce declared between Hamas and Israel, both sides are beginning to count the cost of the 50-day conflict.

Already the damage bill has been presented. Israel estimates the cost of the 50-day conflict to be $2.67 billion. The government announced spending will be slashed by 2 per cent this year to make up for the cost.

Meanwhile, NGO Shelter Cluster says rebuilding Gaza will cost $6.49 billion and take 20 years.

The scale of destruction in the latest round of fighting in the decades-long Gaza conflict has been shown in aerial video footage recently posted online.

While the authenticity of the footage could not be immediately verified, it was posted on YouTube on August 29 by Palestine-based production company Media Town which says the footage is of the eastern Gaza town of Al-Shejaiya.

The company says it began documenting the damage to the neighbourhood from the air earlier in August, using a quadcopter remote control aircraft that can only fly for 20 minutes at a time.

The company said its intention is to eventually document the damage from the air for the entire area of the Gaza Strip.

"The company intends to document and film all areas of Gaza Strip from the north to south for pure media and TV purposes," it said in a post on Facebook.

The video shows a scarred landscape of buildings in various states of disrepair in the aftermath of airstrikes and bomb attacks.

The families and residents of the buildings are nowhere to be seen.

The video has been seen over 143,000 times, with some viewers comparing the bomb-hit land to the aftermath of the Hiroshima bombing in World War Two.

"It looks like Hiroshima," one viewer posted in the YouTube comments section.

At least 17,000 homes were destroyed or severely damaged in the most recent round of fighting, with 5000 more needing major repairs, according to NGO Shelter Cluster.

The group conducted a 20-year assessment, concluding that Gaza now has a housing deficit of 75,000 units.

Gaza's densely populated coastal area covers 360 square kilometres and is home to 1.8 million people. The land itself has never recovered from previous bouts of fighting over the decades.
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An Israeli Army spokeswoman says Israel bore the brunt of 4,591 rockets and mortar shells fired by militants in Gaza over the seven-week conflict. A large number did strike targets, with only 735 shot down by Israel's Iron Dome air defense system.

The attacks prompted air raid sirens in southern and central Israel, forcing millions to seek shelter in cities as far away as Tel Aviv and on occasions in Jerusalem. US and European airlines suspended flights to Tel Aviv's international airport for two days when a rocket struck close to one of the runways.

Gaza before and after

The UN has estimated that thousands of buildings have been destroyed in the latest round of fighting.

The damage assessments compare satellite images taken before and after the conflict to assist aid agencies in planning emergency responses.

The most recent satellite image taken on August 1 shows 2493 structures have been destroyed, 1243 severely damaged and 1652 moderately damaged, when compared to the image taken on July 6. The group also estimated Gaza's agricultural and non-urbanised areas were struck by 2,014 craters.

The UN has collated over 100 maps featuring satellite images of all the areas of the Gaza Strip in its 'Gaza Crisis Atlas'.

Gaza: The 360 degree view

Meanwhile, British photojournalist Lewis Whyld has created a virtual panoramic tour of the destruction in Gaza, based on images he shot on six action cameras.

'The Gaza War Map' website allows viewers to see the 360-degree view at 20 sites in Gaza, from Beit Hanoun south to Rafeh in the north.

Struggle to get building supplies into Gaza

Previous efforts to rebuild Gaza's housing stock have been complicated by the blockade imposed by Egypt and Israel since 2007.

The restrictions have made it difficult to get concrete and building materials through to the area.

Following open-ended truce negotiated between Israel and Hamas on August 26, Israel has agreed to partially lift the blockade to allow humanitarian aid and reconstruction materials into Gaza.

The latest round of fighting was sparked by the death of three Israeli teens, who were killed by Hamas in June in the West Bank.

The violence has claimed thousands of lives, with the UN saying the figure stands at 2104, including 1462 civilians and 265 members of militant groups.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health says 2,143 Palestinians have died in the conflict. It says at least 70 per cent were civilians and 500 were children.

The Israel government says 71 Israelis lost their lives, including 6 civilians with the remainder being soldiers.

Egypt and Norway have raised the idea of hosting a donors conference for Gaza next month, but final agreement has yet to be reached.

Source: World News Australia

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