Before the offensive, Alwadeya's factory was by far the largest food producer in Gaza.
During a visit this week to the industrial zone in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun where the Alwadeya factory is located, U.N. humanitarian chief John Holmes said the extent of the wreckage was "shocking," especially the "very systematic" destruction of industry.
"What strikes me is how deliberate this was," Alwadeya said Wednesday, pointing at the earth dug up next to one of his assembly plants by an Israeli army bulldozer, apparently to create a ramp so it could then roll onto the factory. Bulldozer or tank tracks were still visible on the collapsed roof.
At Gaza's largest private fish farm, owner Sohail Kehel was in tears Wednesday as he sifted through some of the 20,000 dead fish now rotting in the six destroyed artificial ponds where he once raised red snapper.
There was no trace of explosives or any ammunition casings in the open stretch of farmland where his enterprise was based along the coast in central Gaza. Large expanses of bulldozer tracks and shoveled earth left by Israeli military vehicles were all that remained.
Like Alwadeya, Kehel was holed up at home when the destruction occurred. However, both men insist gunbattles were highly unlikely because their businesses lie on open ground where militants would find no cover for fighting and in areas that were occupied early on by Israeli ground forces.
Both also note the fact that the destruction of their infrastructure was a lengthy process involving bulldozers.
“Beyond the human losses, the economy is the other great victim of this war," said Amr Hamad, Gaza's executive manager for the Palestinian Federation of Industries.
"What hadn't been destroyed by the siege (Israeli sanctions) was finished off by bombs and tanks," Hamad said, adding that 60 percent of Gaza's cement plants are now inoperable and a third of all metal workshops were destroyed. Airstrikes also targeted the territory's largest flour mill, wiping out 10,000 tons of wheat, as well as its Pepsi-Cola bottling plant and the locally made rival, Mecca Cola.
Israeli military spokeswoman Maj. Avital Leibovich said the army never intentionally targeted Palestinian businesses, but that militants often used civilian infrastructure as cover to carry out attacks.
"Sometimes the owners of factories and houses were not aware they had weapons stashed in their basements or tunnels under their houses," she said. "We only targeted places used by Hamas to attack Israeli civilians."
Source: Gaza’s economy in tatters, can it be rebuilt?