'Destroying justice and law': Israel demolishes main Gaza courthouse and dozens of government buildings

'Destroying justice and law': Israel demolishes main Gaza courthouse and dozens of government buildings
Israel has destroyed Gaza's main courthouse, legislative building, and Islamic university and dozens of other centres of administration, stoking more fears about the future of the Palestinian enclave.
4 min read
05 December, 2023
Israel is turning Gaza into an uninhabitable territory [Getty]

Israel has continued to target government buildings in the Gaza Strip in addition to wreaking havoc on its civilian infrastructure, most recently demolishing Gaza’s main courthouse.

The courthouse’s destruction on Monday was the latest in a string of attacks on government buildings, universities, hospitals, and other significant landmarks in the besieged territory.

A video posted by the Israeli army shows the courthouse vanishing into the smoke and quickly turning into rubble.

Inaugurated in 2018 with Qatari funds and covering an area of about 10,000 square metres, the building was run by Gaza’s justice ministry and served as the Palestinian territory’s Supreme Court.

The United Nations' Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing Balakrishnan Rajagopal said Israel was also destroying "the idea of any justice or law", condemning the bombing 

"This wanton destruction is of not just Gaza but the idea of any justice or law. Interesting that now the courthouse is called 'Hamas' main courthouse," he wrote on X.

More than 100 government buildings have been destroyed by Israel during its ferocious and indiscriminate assault on Gaza since October 7. The bombing has killed close to 15,600 people, most of them women and children.

Israeli soldiers have taken photos of themselves at important buildings in Gaza before proceeding to destroy them.

Other important landmarks obliterated by the Israeli army include Gaza’s legislature in mid-November, and before that the city’s Al-Azhar University.

The attack on the Al-Azhar University was widely condemned by academics and educational institutions around the world.

In an open letter last month, the International Education Association of South Africa said "attacks on Palestinian educational institutions are nothing but an epistemicide – a brutal attempt to annihilate the Palestinian knowledge system."

The police headquarters and a compound housing military intelligence was also captured by Israeli forces.

Israel has pressed on with its ground invasion of the Gaza Strip, turning large parts of its north into a desolate wasteland and is now shifting its offensive to the southern city of Khan Younis.

Other attacks, which rights groups and world leaders have said could amount to war crimes, have seen hospitals deliberately targeted multiple times, most notably the Baptist (Al-Ahli Arab), Al-Awda, and the largest medical complex in the enclave, Al-Shifa.

UN-run schools acting as shelters for tens of thousands of displaced Palestinians have also been attacked, with scores of people killed, and Gaza’s electricity, telecommunications and water networks have been shattered.

"This is the destruction of Palestine’s entity in Gaza, not only an attack on Hamas as Israel claims," said The New Arab’s correspondent from Rafah.

She herself had to flee her home in Gaza City and gradually made her way south, like more than half of the enclave’s population of 2.3 million. Rafah, which borders Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, has become overcrowded with displaced Palestinians, like neighbouring Khan Younis currently under attack.

"Everything that has to do with civilian life in the Gaza Strip is being attacked, like courts and administrative buildings," she told TNA, adding that it has become apparent that Israel is truly attempting to dismantle Hamas and end its governance of the Gaza Strip.

Late on Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed not to allow any Palestinian entity to govern Gaza after the war ends, as quoted by Israel’s Kan 11 broadcaster. He was referring both to Hamas and the Fatah-run Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank.

The deliberate targeting of these buildings across the Gaza Strip, coupled with alleged plans to forcibly expel Palestinians from the territory to other countries – thus wiping out all remnants of a Palestinian government and people in the coastal strip – has ignited fears of another Nakba unfolding.

Israel has said it has no plans to force Palestinians to leave Gaza, but its indiscriminate air and ground offensive and deliberate targeting of civilians have signalled otherwise.