Jabalia residents face more horrific conditions amid new Israeli attack

Jabalia residents face more horrific conditions amid new Israeli attack
Jabalia camp is the largest of the eight refugee camps established in the Gaza Strip after the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians by Zionist forces in 1948.

5 min read
14 May, 2024
Jabalia is home to over 100,000 people, most of home are descendants of refugees from 1948, in an area not exceeding 1.4 square kilometres. [Getty]

It is as if Israel's bloody war had begun all over again for the residents of the Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza. With the sounds of continuous Israeli bombing and fierce clashes with Palestinian resistance fighters, the residents of Jabalia refugee camp are living in uncertain and deadly circumstances.

On Saturday, the Israeli army launched a ground military assault for the second time on the Jabalia camp under the pretext of eliminating Hamas fighters, which had reconstituted its military capabilities in the area after the Israeli army withdrew about two months ago.

The Israeli army claimed that it had begun a "temporary evacuation operation" from the Jabalia area towards the centre of the Gaza Strip as part of preparations for a military operation in the region.

"In recent weeks, we have monitored attempts by Hamas to restore its military capabilities in Jabalia, and we are working to dismantle these attempts," claimed Daniel Hagari, an Israeli army spokesman. 

Before the army began its new operation, it forced residents to leave their homes. However, many residents refused to evacuate, preferring to remain despite the danger.

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Other families took the option to flee and face an "unknown fate", especially in light of the absence of any safe zones that might protect them from the indiscriminate strikes by the Israeli army.

Speaking to The New Arab, several Palestinian residents of the camp said that the Israeli army is launching air and ground raids around the clock, leaving dozens dead and injured. 

As a result of the Israeli attacks, clouds of smoke cover the sky of the camp, preventing residents from seeing anything.

"We are in a real war zone. We do not know how to act with such endless conflict, and we do not have many options," Mohammed Lafi, a Jabalia-based 58-year-old father of ten, told TNA

"Even if we decide to flee, there is no safe place. Therefore, I decided to stay here and die here without fulfilling the demands of the 'Nazi' army," remarked Lafi. 

"The air and ground bombardment has not stopped since yesterday. They have been bombing everywhere, including nearby schools that house people who lost their homes," he added.

In one of the Israeli attacks, Lafi thought his own home was hit. A few minutes later, after the cloud of black smoke cleared and he could see what was around him, he knew that his neighbour's house was the target.

"I heard women screaming for help. I quickly ran towards them and found five children killed, their remains scattered in the house that was completely demolished [...] The scene was terrifying, as if we were in the horrors of the Day of Resurrection," he recounted. 

"Everyone was running while others were trying to retrieve the victims [...] The rubble of the targeted house was scattered throughout the neighbourhood [...] All the residents of our area thought they were the targets."

Ground incursion

Jabalia camp is the largest of the eight refugee camps established in the Gaza Strip after the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians by Zionist forces in 1948. 

It is home to over 100,000 people in an area not exceeding 1.4 square kilometres.

According to local sources in the camp, the Israeli army is trying to storm and enter deep into the camp by focusing its air and ground attacks on Blocks 2 and 4  to empty it of its residents who refuse to leave.

As for the other blocks, their residents chose to evacuate them in anticipation of the army carrying out "retaliatory" attacks against them, as happened in the ground incursion at the beginning of the war.

The army tanks reached the vicinity of the camp but were unable to penetrate much due to fierce clashes with Palestinian fighters, the sources said. 

Israeli tanks surrounded UNRWA schools in the camp and called on the displaced using loudspeakers to evacuate the schools immediately and demanded that all the men surrender themselves.

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Saleh Abed Rabbo, a Jabalia-based resident, said to TNA, "We are living a real nightmare that has not stopped for seven months (...) We do not know what to do or where to go (...) The Israeli army wants to exterminate all the residents of the camp, and we want to live on our land. No matter what the cost."

Abed Rabbo, who lost seven of his children in a previous Israeli bombing on Jabalia, added, "I don't know where people should go. They (the Israeli forces) are asking people to go to western Gaza, where Al-Shifa Hospital and the industrial area are, and the Israelis have destroyed all these areas before."

However, he says he will never move. "People are staying. We were displaced once, then a second time, a third time, and ten times from schools, then we returned to schools, and now we do not know where to go. There is no safe place. Every place is dangerous," he noted. 

Aisha Al-Masry, a Palestinian woman from the town of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip who was displaced six months ago to Jabalia, preferred to flee for the seventh time despite not knowing where to go.

After hours of walking, the 36-year-old mother of six arrived at the seashore in the Sudaniya area in the northern Gaza Strip. 

Al-Masry says with regret and sadness, "I have been left out in the open now, and I do not know whether to continue on my way to Gaza City or I will find another place. Death surrounds us everywhere."  

A catastrophic situation

Palestinian medical sources say that the situation is "catastrophic" in the northern Gaza Strip, especially in light of fuel shortage for the hospitals as they became unable to receive any of the casualties in light of the lack of ambulances or even medical teams to deal with the large number of victims.

The sources added that "the majority of those injured by Israeli targets will die either because the civil defence and medical teams were unable to reach them or because there were no places available for them inside the northern hospitals to receive them."

Israel has been waging a war of "revenge" on the Gaza Strip since 7 October, leaving more than 34,034 dead and more than 78,000 wounded up to this moment, according to official data issued by the Ministry of Health in Gaza.

For his part, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, said that the war in Gaza "is causing horrific human suffering," calling on the world to press for an immediate ceasefire for humanitarian reasons.