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In December 2001, Israeli armored bulldozers demolished the nearly 2.2 mile runway into more than a dozen pieces, in response to an attack that killed four Israeli soldiers. Israeli F16 jets bombed the airport's radar center and exterior camera security system.
For years, Palestinian leadership continued to push for the airport's re-opening, emphasizing economic loss from its closure. But Israeli officials cited security concerns, and argued that the airport only benefitted high-flying diplomats and VIPs, offering no contribution to the larger Palestinian economy.
Today, those Gazans who can afford it travel through checkpoints and border crossings, sometimes for days, to get to airports in Israel, Jordan and Egypt.
Amid ongoing hostilities between Israel and Hamas, Gaza’s dream of its own international airport is sinking even further away.
On July 7, images showed black smoke rising from near the ruins of the Gaza airport. Medics said they recovered the bodies of five Palestinian fighters from a collapsed tunnel nearby.