As Israel expands a buffer zone and erects army bases in the Strip, Palestinians fear the permanent loss of their homes and land.

More than seven months into the war, the Israeli military’s long-term plans for the Gaza Strip are becoming clearer. From satellite imagery and eyewitness testimonies, it appears that the army is destroying homes, bulldozing land, and erecting structures that will enable it to operate within Gaza for years to come.

Since the start of the war, the military has demolished buildings along the eastern edge of the Gaza Strip, part of what is widely believed to be a plan to establish a kilometer-wide “buffer zone” between populated areas in Gaza and Israel — the equivalent of 16 percent of Gaza’s territory — which Palestinians would be banned from entering. Doing so would permanently displace thousands of civilians and severely impact Gaza’s already-limited agricultural sector. 

Yet this buffer zone is not the only way the Israeli military may permanently transform Gaza’s geography. Since October, the abandoned Netzarim checkpoint — which the Israeli military operated prior to its “disengagement” from Gaza in 2005 — has been expanded into a 6.5-kilometer-long road bisecting the strip. Satellite images now show the “Netzarim Corridor” stretching from Gaza’s eastern boundary with Israel all the way to the Mediterranean Sea, as well as extensive construction of housing unitscommunications towers, and other infrastructure. By building outposts along the Netzarim Corridor, the army will be able to control and restrict movement across Gaza and continue to carry out ground operation.