In a stark contrast, drone images captured by Reuters have shown the devastating effect of the recent Israeli attack on the Gaza strip. The before and after pictures reveal the grim reality of a densely populated enclave, governed by Hamas, transitioning from normalcy to a landscape dotted with ruins.
Life Before the Attack
Prior to October 7th, Gaza was bustling with life. The drone footage showcased schools, mosques, churches, and the 14th-century Barquq Islamic fortress standing tall. Tree-lined streets were filled with commuters, children were seen heading to school in a donkey cart, and others were pictured enjoying a water park. Despite living under a long-standing Israeli blockade and experiencing tightened Egyptian border controls, the people of Gaza strived for normalcy.
The Aftermath of Destruction
Post-attack footage dated after October 7th painted a grim picture, showing extensive damage. Buildings were flattened, and smoke could be seen rising from the rubble-strewn streets. The Israeli offensive, a response to a Hamas attack on southern Israel last month, led to an estimated 15,000 fatalities in Gaza, with 1,200 deaths reported in Israel, mostly civilians. The attacks also resulted in about 240 hostages, pushing the health sector to its edge, with hospitals struggling to cope with the casualties and essential supplies running low.
Ceasefire Agreement and Prisoner Exchange
A ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas led to a 4-day truce, extendable by two days. The pact also included the release of hostages and the freeing of Palestinian prisoners in Israel. As part of the agreement, Hamas agreed to initially release 50 women and children under 19 kidnapped during the October 7th attack. The ceasefire brought some people back to the streets, but scenes of devastation were widespread across Gaza.
Mistreatment in Israeli Jails
Former prisoners reported mistreatment in Israeli jails, with conditions worsening after the Hamas attacks. Esraa Jaabis, imprisoned since 2015 and released as part of the ceasefire deal, described poor conditions in the jails, particularly for Arab Israeli women prisoners. Others released included Shorouq Dwayyat and Ghunam Abu Ghunam, who had been imprisoned for attacking an Israeli and throwing stones at an Israeli bus, respectively. Allegations of abuse by male guards have surfaced, leading to an outcry over the deteriorating situation in Israeli prisons.
Israel maintains that those released are terrorists, while Palestinians argue many are detained for civil disturbance crimes. The Palestinian Prisoner's Club accused Israel of systematic assassination in its prisons, with six Palestinian deaths reported since October 7th.