‘There is no safe place on the Gaza strip!’

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One of the thousands of families forced out of their homes by Israel. Palestinians are more determined than ever to take back their homeland from the Israeli occupiers

‘LIFE has completely vanished, and the displaced wander with uncertainty, not knowing where to go as there is no safe place in the Gaza Strip.’

This is how Marwan El Masri, a displaced Gazan, described the situation in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, since the Israeli occupation tanks invaded the eastern part of the city.
Rafah is considered the last refuge for the displaced in the besieged enclave.
Since the beginning of the ground operation launched by the occupation forces on the Gaza Strip on October 27th, citizens have been ordered to head from the northern and central regions of the Strip to the south, claiming it to be a ‘safe zone’.
Today, Rafah, with its narrow area of approximately 65 square kilometres, accommodates over 1.5 million Palestinians facing dire conditions inside thousands of tents scattered throughout the city, while Israeli military vehicles move southward from the northern coastal area.
Thousands have fled to Rafah several times since the beginning of the occupation’s aggression last October, and they are currently returning north after the occupation forces demanded their evacuation from the eastern part of the city.
Marwan, 35, who fled from northern Gaza, reported, ‘Life has completely vanished in central Rafah. The streets are empty, and there is paralysis in the markets.’
He added: ‘We fear any advancement in the invasion, as happened in the eastern areas, which are now completely empty of civilians.’
Ibtihal Al Arouqi, 39, who fled from the Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza to Rafah and underwent a caesarean section just two weeks ago, found herself displaced once again.
‘We came out from under the rubble of our home in Bureij, and now, due to intense shelling in Rafah, my children and I are on the street.
‘We don’t know where to go; there is no safe place,’ she remarked.
While western Rafah remains relatively calmer than the eastern part, which witnesses intensive shelling, it has also been targeted.
Both Marwan and Ibtihal confirmed that continuous shelling has filled the air with dust and smoke, leading to breathing difficulties.
Mohamed Abu Mughayyib, a medical coordinator for Doctors Without Borders in Rafah, reported: ‘The situation in Rafah is chaotic.’
Abu Mughayyib, who also fled from Gaza City, spoke of ‘people carrying their belongings, mattresses, blankets, and kitchen utensils aboard trucks’ to flee from eastern Rafah.
He added that Al Najjar Hospital was ‘closed, and the medical team was evacuated to avoid what happened at Al Shifa or Al Nasser’, referring to two medical complexes in Gaza that were raided by the occupation forces during the aggression.
With Israeli bombardment from the east, the Egyptian border to the south, and the Mediterranean Sea to the west, many citizens have fled from Rafah to the north.
These individuals headed towards the nearby city of Khan Younis and Deir al-Balah in central Gaza, where thousands of tents have filled the coastal area.
Ahmed Fadel, 22, was among those who returned to northern Gaza from where he fled earlier during the aggression.
Fadel, originally from Gaza City, initially fled from the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza before being asked to leave when the occupation forces invaded the nearby Bureij camp.
‘We left and moved to Rafah, but they bombed and threatened the city, so we came to Deir al-Balah, which was already overcrowded,’ he said.
A video clip from AFP on Wednesday showed thousands of tents and shelter centres set up along the coastal area in Deir al-Balah.
Merchant Abdul Majid Al Kurd said: ‘Deir al-Balah is a small town. It’s now very overcrowded, with no place or facilities enough to accommodate this number.’
Israeli occupation forces seized control of the Palestinian side of the Rafah border crossing on Tuesday, halting the flow of aid to the Strip.
With their control of the Rafah crossing, the occupation forces have closed the main land crossing through which aid enters and wounded and sick individuals leave the Strip for treatment abroad, signaling a worsening humanitarian catastrophe, especially as food and fuel stocks in Gaza are depleted.
The Israeli occupation continues its aggression on the Gaza Strip since October 7th, resulting in the murder of 34,904 civilians, mostly children and women, and the injury of 78,514 others, with thousands of victims still under the rubble.