Gush Katif Airport
|Gush Katif Airport|
|Location||Khan Younis, Gaza Strip|
|Elevation AMSL||107 ft / 33 m|
Abandoned and overbuilt following evacuation of the Gush Katif area in 2004
Gush Katif Airport (IATA: GHK, ICAO: LLAZ) was 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 was immediately west of the former Israeli settlement of Ganei Tal, and named after the former Israeli settlement area of Gush Katif. Following the destruction of the Yasser Arafat International Airport it was briefly the only usable runway in the Gaza Strip, but in 2004 it was abandoned, and was overbuilt by 2015.
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, Israeli 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 Following the handover to the Palestinian authorities along with the rest of Gush Katif, the airstrip was no longer maintained.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 75 ft to approximately 30 ft of usable tarmac, and the 225 ft overrun and backtracking loop at the northwest end became blocked with sand.
The UNRWA Khan Younis refugee camp is adjacent to and south of the former airstrip, and the UNRWA Khan Younis Vocational Training Centre, built in 2007, is immediately south of the runway. The camp houses over 68,000 refugees. In 2010 the main 2,625 ft runway was still sufficiently clear to be used, due to its use as an access road for UNRWA Khan Younis.
By 2014, it was clear from aerial imagery that expansion of UNRWA Khan Younis, including a sewage treatment plant constructed on the former runway threshold, made it entirely unusable.