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Tens of thousands of Palestinians escape to Rafah city

Tens of thousands of Palestinians escape to Rafah city, fleeing Israel's death and destruction
4 min read
06 December, 2023
"During the current war, I was forced to be displaced five times(…) First, I was displaced from my house in Gaza City to Al-Nuseirat refugee camp. After that, I went to  Deir al-Balah, then to Khan Younis and finally to Rafah," said one woman.
A displaced Palestinian family who fled Khan Younis sets up camp in Rafah further south near the Gaza Strip's border with Egypt, on 6 December 2023. [Getty]

As the Israeli army officially expanded its ground military operations to Khan Younis city in the south of Gaza a few days ago, Rafah city has become the main site to shelter thousands of people fleeing death and destruction from Israel's indiscriminate attacks

Amid a significant lack of accommodations in Rafah, thousands of families were forced to install tents in public streets, schools and open barren land.

There is no water, food, electricity, kitchens or bathrooms in Rafah, increasing people's daily suffering while the United Nations warned of the spread of diseases among the population. 

Nashwa Mahani,  a Palestinian woman displaced from Khan Younis city to Rafah two days ago as she escaped from a school in Bani Suhaila that was under Israeli shelling, said to The New Arab, "During the current war, I was forced to be displaced five times(…) First, I was displaced from my house in Gaza city to Al-Nuseirat refugee camp. After that, I went to  Deir al-Balah, then to Khan Younis and finally to Rafah."

"We escaped from death into an unknown fate. We do not know what the Israelis want us to do. We are tired and will die over such inhuman circumstances that we live in Gaza," the 42-year-old mother of five remarked to TNA.  

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Her relatives set up a small tent for her in Mawasi Rafah, but it lacks the basics of shelter. "When my children want to use the bathroom, they have to go out to the sand for their needs," she said. "We do not have any privacy here. Everything in our life became public."

What makes matters worse for Mahani is that she has no money to pay her children's daily expenses. "Everything in the southern areas of Gaza is very expensive, and I could not buy them. Also, the UNRWA can only distribute a few food stocks like wheat flour and some canned food that are not sufficient for my children for one day," she noted. 

According to the United Nations, about 85% of the population of the Gaza Strip, approximately 1.9 million people in Gaza, have become internally displaced.

Nearly 1.2 million displaced people have been registered in 156 UN facilities across the Gaza Strip, including about a million registered in 99 UNRWA shelters in the central and southern Gaza Strip.

Over two days, tens of thousands of displaced people were seen arriving in Rafah, south of the Gaza Strip, near the border with Egypt, after the Israeli army warned them to evacuate from the city of Khan Yunis.

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Palestinians fear that Israel is pushing more people to the south of the Gaza Strip near the border with Egypt as a prelude to forcing them to migrate to the Egyptian Sinai region.

"We have never experienced such genocidal war in Gaza. It is clear that Israel wants to evacuate all our territories from the people and establish settlements in Gaza," Linda Mohammed, a displaced woman, said to TNA

"Israel is killing our people and displacing the rest of them to create a new reality on the ground and to punish all of us for many years," she added.  

Palestinian factions in Gaza warned against any Israeli plan to displace the residents of the Gaza Strip in light of the ongoing Israeli war continuing for a third month.

"The officially and popularly unified Palestinian position is in confronting the Israeli plans to displace our people from the Gaza Strip to the (Egyptian) Sinai," Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip said in a joint press statement.

The statement stressed "the rejection of any plans to resettle Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, whether in Sinai or elsewhere, and that our Palestinian people have one homeland to live in, which is only Palestine."

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The statement also warned against any consistency with the Israeli plan of displacement under the headings of protection, humanitarian assistance, or safe areas.

The Palestinian factions' statement added that they appreciated the principled Egyptian position of categorically rejecting the displacement plan, calling on Cairo to "maintain this position and confront the Israeli aggression and its criminal plans."

Since 7 October, Israel has been waging a large-scale war against  Gaza under the name "Iron Swords," which has left more than 16,000 Palestinians dead.

The latest war by Israel on Gaza began after Hamas launched an unprecedented attack on southern Israel, which it called the "Al-Aqsa Flood", which claimed the lives of less than 1,200 Israelis, according to the Israeli authorities.