Israeli airstrike in Rafah kills dozens in tent city, Gaza officials say – Generic English

Gazans have been uprooted again and again during the more than seven months of Israel’s invasion and bombardment. Faced with the prospect of having to pack their bags and flee once again, some in Rafah are putting off leaving, at least for now.

According to the United Nations, more than 800,000 Palestinians have already fled the southern city of Rafah and surrounding areas in the past three weeks as Israel launches a military offensive there. But many continue to resist in what was once considered the safest place in the Gaza Strip, where more than a million people had come to find refuge.

They are exhausted, hungry, and know that the next place they flee to probably won’t be safe. Israel continued to bomb Gaza, even in areas previously designated as safe.

Israeli forces dropped leaflets ordering people to evacuate and this month launched a military offensive in eastern Rafah, advancing meter by meter deeper into the city. The UN Supreme Court appears to have ordered Israel to halt its offensive, but Israel has so far signaled that it will continue.

Some in western Rafah are waiting to see what will happen before leaving. Others have even fled and returned, having found neither safety nor the essentials to live elsewhere.

“The most despicable word that I don’t like to say or hear is ‘displacement,’” Randa Naser Samoud, 30, a math teacher from northern Gaza, said Thursday as the Israeli army advanced toward the center of the city. . “Evacuation means loss of the value of life, a lot of suffering and pain.”

Along with her husband, a dentist, and their three children, Ms Samoud has already been displaced four times. They now live in a tent near a United Nations warehouse, and although their area has not been ordered to evacuate, around three-quarters of the people around them have already fled.

While walking with one of her young children on Thursday, Ms. Samoud saw trucks on the street loaded with the belongings of families preparing to flee.

“The topic of evacuation is not an easy thing to discuss or decide on,” he said. “I always talk to my husband about plans if necessary, but it’s still hard to decide.”

His father suggested moving to a school building in one of the cities where many people had fled for refuge. But Samoud says schools turned into shelters are not a good option due to the lack of toilets and the accumulation of waste everywhere. She is afraid that her children will get sick.

With each move, Gazans have to start from scratch, as they often cannot take much with them. Shipping costs can amount to hundreds of dollars.

“The last horrible thought on my mind is the time when I will have to escape from my tent and leave behind everything I have collected or bought,” he said, pointing to the clothes, dishes and food they have in their tent .

Ahlam Saeed Abu Riyala, 40, said concerns about access to water kept her and her family of eight in western Rafah after being displaced four times.

For months they have been living in a tent just steps from the Egyptian border, close enough to talk to Egyptian soldiers on the other side. As Ms. Abu Riyala stood outside her tent and talked to a neighbor, a nearby water truck pumped clean drinking water for displaced people in the camp.

“Now we are in two minds; I say we should evacuate Rafah before it’s too late, but my husband says no,” he told her. “But we can’t leave for many reasons, and water is the top priority.”

The sounds of Israel’s air and ground invasion keep them on the edge of their seats. They can hear Israeli tanks and, sometimes, armed drones broadcasting the “safety” message in Arabic or the sound of dogs barking, he said.

Even if they choose to leave, the cost of such a trip may be beyond their means.

“Mentally, physically and financially, I’m exhausted and sick of the word ‘evacuation,’” she said. “I hate my life and all this suffering.”