Sunday, June 16, 2024

Gazans in Another Round of Relocation Face ‘Horrific’ Conditions

Hundreds of Thousands Fleeing Southern Gaza City Encounter Miserable Conditions

Headline: Fleeing Gazans Face Harsh Conditions as Israel’s Invasion of Rafah Continues

As Israel’s invasion of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip enters its third week, hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the city have encountered dire conditions in their new encampments and shelters.

Shortages of food, clean water, and bathrooms have made the relocation experience nightmarish for many Gazans, with price gouging further complicating the situation for those in need of transportation, including older and disabled individuals.

“We’re dealing with horrific circumstances,” said Khalil el-Halabi, a retired U.N. official, who fled Rafah for Al-Mawasi, an area designated as a “humanitarian zone” by Israel. “We don’t have what we need. We can barely even find water.”

More than 800,000 people have left Rafah in the past two weeks, according to a United Nations official, as Israel’s military continues to expand evacuation orders. Despite the mass exodus, an estimated 300,000 to 400,000 civilians remain in the city.

The latest wave of displacement began on May 6 when Israel issued evacuation notices and launched military operations in eastern Rafah. Many of the displaced individuals had sought refuge in Rafah after fleeing fighting elsewhere in Gaza multiple times.

Ali Jebril, a wheelchair-bound basketball player, shared his family’s struggle to secure transportation out of eastern Rafah, highlighting the challenges faced by many vulnerable populations.

Since the incursions into Rafah, shelters in the city have emptied out, forcing people to set up makeshift camps in areas near Khan Younis and Deir al Balah. These camps lack basic necessities like sanitation, water, and shelter, leading to a catastrophic humanitarian situation.

While Israel defends its actions as necessary to root out Hamas fighters in southern Gaza, aid groups warn that the additional displacement is exacerbating an already dire situation. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs described the living conditions in the makeshift camps as “hell on earth.”

As the conflict rages on, the delivery of aid to Gaza has been severely limited, with closures at critical border crossings blocking medical supplies and food distribution. Each relocation brings new risks and challenges, leaving displaced individuals to start from scratch with limited resources.

The ongoing crisis in Gaza serves as a stark reminder of the toll of conflict on civilian populations, as families struggle to survive in the midst of a devastating humanitarian disaster.

By Adam Rasgon and Victoria Kim.

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