The United Nations reported on Saturday that over 1,300 buildings in the Gaza Strip have been destroyed after a week of intense Israeli airstrikes in response to an unprecedented attack by Hamas.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs stated that “5,544 residential units” in these buildings have been destroyed, with around 3,750 other units suffering severe damage, rendering them uninhabitable.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the airstrikes as “just the beginning,” as Israel seeks to retaliate against Hamas after an attack that claimed the lives of over 1,300 people a week ago.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health reported that at least 1,900 residents of Gaza, most of whom were civilians, including over 600 children, were killed in the Israeli airstrikes on the densely populated territory.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that “according to the Ministry of Public Works in Gaza, 1,324 residential and non-residential buildings have been destroyed, housing 5,540 residential units… and 3,743 other residential units have sustained irreparable damage and are now uninhabitable.”
As the United Nations continues to monitor the number of internally displaced individuals inside Gaza, more than 423,000 displaced persons had been recorded by the end of Thursday.
Israel gave on Friday approximately 1.1 million people in northern Gaza 24 hours to evacuate the area quickly and head south ahead of an expected ground offensive.
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that by 6 p.m. GMT on Friday, “estimates suggest that tens of thousands have fled,” although the precise extent of internally displaced individuals inside Gaza remains unknown.
Quoting the Palestinian Ministry of Health, it stated, “The vehicles of those displaced from northern Gaza have come under attack, resulting in over 40 deaths and 150 injuries… These events have prompted many to retreat from evacuation and return to their homes… Safe passages for people to safely comply with the movement orders southwards were not initially provided.”
The majority of people in Gaza now lack access to clean drinking water, and “as a last resort, people are consuming saline water from agricultural wells, raising serious concerns about waterborne diseases.”
It added that since the onset of the airstrikes, six water wells and three pumping stations, as well as a water tank and a desalination plant serving over 1.1 million people, have been damaged due to aerial bombardment, pushing essential health, water, and sanitation services to the “brink of collapse” and exacerbating food security concerns.