In 2011, Project Unified Assistance (PUA) met with an engineer who specializes in designing airports and he agreed to do a thorough assessment of Gaza’s map to propose a new location for a future airport. The idea was that a new location would help overcome strategic geographic challenges that faced Gaza’s original international Airport. PUA wanted to identify a new site that would allow airplanes to fly over the Mediterranean and international waters in order to avoid Israeli airspace which would undoubtedly be off-limits to any Gaza-related aviation operations. After a detailed analysis, the engineer proposed construction of an airport on the southwestern coast of the Gaza Strip between the towns of Khan Yunis and Rafah on the grounds of the former Israeli settlement of "Gush Katif” in an area known as “Mawasi.” Environmental factors such as wind and soil were significant in the proposed placement of the runway. The most significant aspect of this location is that it will enable flights to take off and land immediately adjacent to the Mediterranean Sea.
Here are the reasons why Project Unified Assistance believes that the new proposed location is ideal for constructing a new airport:
1- The geographic depth is sufficient to accommodate a runway that has to be roughly 10,000 feet-long to receive jumbo jets. It is possible to extend the runway at this location by building part of it over in the sea as is the case with many airports.
2- Ease of dealing with soil in the proposed location so as to expedite the process of flattening the sandy plains. Additionally, it will be nearly impossible to dig smuggling tunnels next to the airport, given the type of soil.
3- The location’s proximity to the two main highways that connect southern Gaza with the north.
4- The relative absence of buildings and structures which could delay the building of the airport as a result of having to deal with and compensate property owners.
5- Although Gaza is a narrow coastal enclave, the proposed location is as far away from Israel’s borders as geographically possible. Unlike the old airport, this location would make it possible for planes to avoid Israeli airspace when landing and taking off. Even if a plane has to cancel a landing (known as executing a go-around), there will be enough space to maneuver airplanes while still remaining clear of Israeli airspace.
6- The location’s distance from population centers, which in turn will make it easier to secure the airport and establish a relatively small yet solid buffer zone to separate the compound from neighboring areas.
7- The area is large enough to accommodate the construction of a residential complex for United Nations’ staff who will operate and manage the airport. This ensures that airport operations will not be interrupted if staff cannot get to work, especially during possible future military confrontations or any other security problems.
8- With the exception of naval bombardment, the area has remained largely clear of armed clashes between Israelis and Palestinians. This is important because unlike the old location right on the border with Israel, this area is far away from common confrontation zones as well as smuggling and attack tunnels. This will keep the airport away from clashes which could result in its destruction. PUA envisions the airport operating during difficult challenges or confrontations.