Khan Younis residents return to find their former neighborhoods in ruins

Palestinians who were forced out of their homes in Khan Younis by Israel’s military offensive began returning cautiously in small numbers after Israel withdrew its ground forces on Sunday. Many found their former neighborhoods looking like a wasteland. 

Video filmed by a CNN stringer showed rubble and debris strewn along the roads. Much of the city was bulldozed after months of heavy fighting and Israeli bombardment. 

A view of destruction after Israeli forces withdrawal from Khan Younis.  Jehad Alshrafi/Anadolu/Getty Images

Most were seen examining the ruins on foot, although some were using bicycles, trucks or donkeys for transportation. They collected kitchen items, leftover food bags and other items salvaged from the wreckage, CNN video showed. Others were seen standing atop destroyed buildings, sifting through heaps of rubble that had once been homes. “This is what has become of Gaza,” said one man, driving through the rubble on his motorbike.  

The footage showed significant damage to the vast majority of buildings, including homes and mosques, with many entirely flattened. The buildings still standing were covered in soot and riddled with bullet holes and artillery damage, with facades torn down.

The city’s Al Amal Hospital has been battered by the fighting there over the past four months.  Jehad Alshrafi/Anadolu/Getty Images

The buzzing of Israeli drones above could be heard throughout, as well as occasional gunshots. In what appeared to be the office of a telecoms company, graffiti could be seen on the walls, including drawings of Stars of David as well as anti-Arab profanity in English.  

“Gaza belongs to the Jews,” read an Arabic marking on the wall next to the logo of the Basil Tel company in eastern Khan Younis.

(Source: CNN)