Before and After Aerial View of Gaza’s Last “Safe Zone” Shows Unprecedented Devastation

Khan Younis on November 30, 2023.

Khan Younis on January 19, 2024.

Do you remember the infamous Ben Shapiro tweet about the difference between Jews and Arabs?

That did not hold up very well.


Scattered around a huge crater are the remnants of a life that is gone. Random pieces of clothing and a red makeup bag lie in the mud. Nearby, an English language textbook, bits of broken furniture and a pillow with floral embroidery are jumbled together in one large pile.

The crater sits right in the middle of a residential neighborhood in central Khan Younis, the besieged city in southern Gaza that is the current epicenter of the war between Israel and Hamas.

The city is the hometown of Hamas’ leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, and, according to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), a major Hamas stronghold. It’s also an area to which the Israeli military urged large numbers of civilians to flee in the early days of the war, when northern Gaza was the focus of Israel’s operations.

Looking around, it’s clear that the IDF went into Khan Younis with full force.

According to the IDF, the crater is all that is left of a building similar to the others in the area. The military said it was flattened because it sat on top of an entrance to a vast underground tunnel complex.

The IDF says the complex has been used by Sinwar and other Hamas officials to hide since the war began and some of the hostages kidnapped from Israel by Hamas on October 7 were held there. It’s not clear for how long.

CNN was among a small group of reporters granted a military escort by the Israeli army to see the tunnels. As a condition of entering Gaza under IDF escort, news outlets must submit photos and raw video footage to the Israeli military for review prior to publication. The IDF did not review this written report.

Being accompanied by the IDF meant the journalists were only able to see what it allowed them to see.

Even so, the devastation witnessed by CNN in Gaza was beyond imagination.

Driving from the border fence to the heart of Khan Younis in a military vehicle offered a limited vantage point, but there didn’t seem to be a single building that was untouched by the war.

Many buildings have been completely destroyed and the rubble bulldozed away. The ones that are left standing appear damaged beyond any chance of repair. Some look like the ruins of medieval castles – lone walls with holes where windows used to be.

The scale of the bulldozing is apparent when driving through. In some areas, the roads are lined with banks of rubble that are so high that the military vehicle is completely boxed in, driving below the “street level.”

Despite what the Jews are now claiming, there is no end in sight.