The Rimal neighbourhood, once the beating heart of the Gaza Strip, has been nearly wiped out in the four days of intense Israeli bombardment of the besieged enclave.

Israeli bombs have pummelled walls of apartment towers, toppled trees lining sidewalks, uprooted streets teeming with businessmen and food vendors alike, and levelled down university buildings, mosques and the offices of everything from Gaza’s main telecommunications company to international media.

“Israel has destroyed the centre of everything,” said Palestinian businessman Ali al-Hiyak from his home near Rimal. “That is the space of our public life, our community.”

“They are breaking us,” he added.

The heavy bombardment on Tuesday is part of Israel’s most intense bombing campaign in recent memory, residents of the besieged territory say, which it unleashed after Hamas mounted its deadliest attack on Israel in decades on Saturday.

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant has pledged to launch a ground offensive in Gaza, the territory reeling under Israeli bombs. Gaza’s Health Ministry said at least 900 people have been killed and another 4,600 injured in five days of the conflict.

Meanwhile, Israel’s military said the death toll in Israel had risen to 1,200 and more than 2,700 people had been wounded.

While Israel struck Rimal in the last war on Gaza in 2021, the sheer scale of Tuesday’s strikes was unprecedented.

“These sounds are different,” 30-year-old Saman Ashour in Gaza City said from a neighbourhood north of Rimal, listening to the roar of explosions. “It’s the sound of revenge.”

Everyone, from local journalists to shopkeepers, was killed during the bombardment. Drone footage showed swaths of Gaza City pummeled to dirt craters and ruins.

Resident Issa Abu Salim stood aghast examining the debris left of his home, his clothes filthy with the dust of the destruction.

“Our money is gone. My identity cards are lost. The entire house, all four floors, is lost,” he said. “The most beautiful area, they destroyed it.”

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