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Gaza Airstrip

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Gaza Airstrip

Gaza Airstrip/Gush Katif Airport
ICAO: LLAZ
Summary
Owner Palestinian National Authority
Operator None
Serves Gaza Strip
Location Khan Younis, Gaza Strip
Elevation AMSL 107 ft / 33 m
Coordinates
Runways
Direction Length Surface
ft m
13/31 2,625 800 Tarmac
Statistics (2010)
Condition Useable
Aircraft Movements 0
The airspace over the airfield is currently under Israeli blockade.

Gaza Airstrip (ICAO: LLAZ), also known as Gush Katif Airport, is a small airfield in the Gaza Strip approximately two miles north of the town of Khan Yunis, and adjacent to the UNRWA Khan Younis refugee camp. It is immediately west of the former Israeli settlement of Ganei Tal, and named after the former Israeli settlement area of Gush Katif. It may be on the site of the former RAF Gaza, which was first used as an airstrip in 1941.[1] Following the destruction of the Yasser Arafat International Airport it is currently the only usable runway in the Gaza Strip. An Israeli air blockade prevents the runway from being used.

History

During the Second World War RAF Gaza was used by a number of RAF squadrons, including 33, 45, 127, 208, 318 and 451. No.2 Air Crew Officers School was based on the airfield, and the Greek Training Flight was also based there from 1941-1942. The airfield was used as the Middle East ammunition depot from July to September 1942. Whether or not RAF Gaza was on the site of the present day Gaza Airstrip is unclear, as it was likely only of a temporary nature. Some sources place RAF Gaza to the southeast of Gaza City[2] although there are no visible remains of the airfield there.

After the 1948 Palestinian exodus 35,000 refugees took shelter in a camp to the south of the present day airfield. This has become the UNRWA Khan Younis camp.

As part of the unilateral disengagement of Israel from Gaza, Jewish settlers were evicted from the Gush Katif area in 2004 and 2005. In 2004, the airfield was in a good state of repair. The runway was kept clear, and runway markings were maintained. Following the handover to the Palestinian authorities along with the rest of Gush Katif, the airstrip was no longer maintained. It became partially covered by sand and reduced from a width of 80 ft to approximately 30 ft of usable tarmac, and the 225 ft overrun and backtracking loop at the northwest end became blocked with sand.

Present day

The UNRWA Khan Younis refugee camp is adjacent to and south of the airfield, and the UNRWA Khan Younis Vocational Training Centre, built in 2007, is immediately south of the runway. The camp houses over 68,000 refugees.[3] In 2010 the main 2,625 ft runway was still sufficiently clear to be used, due to its use as access to UNRWA Khan Younis.

Following the destruction of the runway of Gaza Airport in 2002, Gaza Airstrip is the only remaining runway in the Gaza Strip. Although the runway is short compared to Gaza Airport, with the tarmac overrun at the northwest end of the runway cleared of sand it is potentially long enough for STOL airliners such as the DHC-7 to operate safely. 500 ft of open ground beyond the overrun could be used to extend the runway.

References

  1. ^ http://www.rafweb.org/Stations/Stations-G.htm A History of the RAF - Stations (G)
  2. ^ http://wikimapia.org/2191006/Former-RAF-Gaza-Airfield RAF Gaza Airfield - Wikimapia
  3. ^ http://www.unrwa.org/etemplate.php?id=81 UNRWA - Khan Younis refugee camp
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