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Conflict in the Gaza Strip Case Study Summary

Study conducted by Human Rights Watch, 2004.


In 2004, Human Rights Watch produced a report on the Israeli mass destruction of houses and infrastructure on the southwest edge of the occupied Gaza Strip, along the border with Egypt. From 2000 to 2004 the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) destroyed over 2,500 houses in this area, with 2/3 of those houses located in Rafah, a densely populated refugee camp and city adjacent to the Egyptian border.

As part of the preparation for this report satellite imagery was used to analyze damages done by the Israeli forces and to chronicle the destruction. Specifically, the imagery supplemented field research and interviews conducted by Human Rights Watch during July of 2004. The imagery used includes eight satellite photographs from the IKONOS satellite. Satellite images were provided by Imaging North America, Space Imaging Eurasia, Space Imaging Middle East, and Digital Globe.

Figure 1: Destroyed Greenhouses

Before Image: 16-Dec-2003
© Copyright GeoEye 2007. All rights reserved


After Image: 29-May-2004
© Copyright GeoEye 2007. All rights reserved

The image subset above depicts an area of agricultural land and greenhouses that has been destroyed by the IDF. This area is part of the Tel al-Sultan neighborhood a few kilometers west of Rafah.

The use of satellite imagery in this study, used in conjunction with field research by Human Rights Watch, provided the basis for a quantitative assessment of both the cumulative damage incurred due to IDF operations in the area and of the damage that occurred over several days in May 2004, as part of Operation Rainbow.

See the full HRW report on mass home demolitions in Rafah, “Razing Rafah: Mass Home Demolitions in the Gaza Strip” (2004).