ITV News taken inside Gaza for first time to see the dust and devastation of the month-long conflict

An ITV News team has, for the first time, seen for themselves the dust, debris, and total devastation of the Gaza conflict.

Our team was escorted into the town of Beit Hanoun - in the Gaza Strip - by Israeli forces, who supervised what we were allowed to film and to show.

Their only stipulation, having seen our report, was that we protected the identity of the junior soldiers.

There wasn’t a single building unscathed. Beit Hanoun has been destroyed, and yet the Israelis and Hamas are still fighting over the rubble.

Half an hour earlier, I’d been driving past the orchards of southern Israel. Now, I am walking past the remnants of Gaza’s northernmost town.

The bangs, crumps and machine-gun chatter were a perpetual soundtrack, and even when the really big booms happened the Israeli soldiers didn’t flinch.

Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza has been reduced to rubble. But Hamas and IDF forces continue to fight over the remains. Credit: ITV News

By the end of our two-hour visit neither did I - such was the omnipresence of the sound of war. We were with a unit from the Givati Brigade, based in southern Israel.

All the troops we met know someone who was killed, kidnapped or injured in the surprise Hamas attack that they are in Gaza to try to ensure never happens again.

These soldiers were among the first to invade the Strip when the order was finally given to cross the border 12 days ago.

The soldiers said they hadn’t seen any civilians. Presumably, the aerial bombardment has forced them to flee.

IDF forces are wary of entering tunnels, fearing they may have been booby trapped by Hamas fighters. Credit: ITV News

We were about a kilometre from the Israeli border and I was surprised the fighting was so intense this far north in Gaza.

The Israelis have uncovered many tunnels and are wary of them. They won’t go in them for fear of booby traps or ambush.

They know Hamas fighters are using them to live in and to spring attacks. The commanding officer described the warren as “a city under a city.”

The challenge posed by the tunnels is one reason this war could last a long time.

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