When Samir Hassan and his surviving family members fled their home in the town of Mughraqa, in the central Gaza Strip, a few weeks ago, they did so under intense Israeli airstrikes, which killed a number of their family members, including an uncle, and seriously injured his brother.
They settled in a tent in the neighboring region of Nuseirat, where tens of thousands of Palestinians forced by the Israeli air and ground offensive had also fled and were finding shelter in overcrowded schools, dilapidated tents or even on the streets.
Mr Hassan’s family have now been told they have to move again.
The Israeli army this week ordered more than 150,000 people to leave parts of central Gaza. “The area you are in is considered a deadly combat zone,” warned leaflets which were dropped on houses, shelters and camps.
“God willing, this will be the last time we are displaced,” said Mr. Hassan, 22, a taxi driver. The family lost everything after the first leak, he said.
Israel’s war against Hamas has forced many of Gaza’s 2.3 million Palestinians to repeatedly flee for their lives as airstrikes bombard their towns and Israeli forces advance their ground invasion.
The currently threatened area, covering an area of about nine square kilometers, has six shelters housing around 61,000 displaced people, mainly from northern Gaza, according to the United Nations. This is in addition to the region’s original 90,000 inhabitants.
In its latest evacuation orders, Israel ordered people to immediately move to shelters that the UN says can barely accommodate the several hundred thousand people already there.
According to the United Nations relief agency for the Palestinians, some 1.9 million people in Gaza, or nearly 85 percent of the population, are displaced.
“Forced to move again,” the agency said THURSDAY. “The Israeli authorities’ evacuation order from central Gaza is leading to continued forced displacement. More than 150,000 people – young children, pregnant women, people with disabilities and the elderly – have nowhere to go.
The only hope left for Gazans, according to the agency, is a ceasefire.
Israel’s evacuation orders – which the United Nations says risks forced displacement, which constitutes a war crime – have at times been contradictory and confusing. And even when Gazans make the heartbreaking decision to uproot their families once again, they are forced to make impossible choices, with nowhere safe to go.
Israeli bombing and siege of Gaza has decimated large parts of the Palestinian enclave and its infrastructure, leaving millions hungry and exposed to the elements and creating a public health disaster in the making.
Israel said it was responding to humanitarian concerns, including those expressed by the United States. A military spokesperson, Lt. Col. Avichay Adraee, said on social media that in an effort to help Gazans understand the evacuation guidelines, they had published maps divided into grids “in order to preserve your security and your safety.
But Israel has regularly used 2,000-pound bombs – one of the largest and most destructive supplied by the United States – in densely populated areas of southern Gaza, where civilians have been asked to move to security reasons, according to an analysis of visual evidence by The New. York Times.
At Aqsa Hospital in Deir al-Balah, a mother of five said she and 20 members of her extended family had arrived there the day before. This is the fourth time that this family, including a 10-month-old baby, has been forced to flee since the start of the war.
“They threatened the whole block around us, even the new camp, even the market street – they threatened all of that,” she said. “They dropped leaflets ordering us to leave within three days. So we had to come here.
Living in a thin tent in the winter cold made all of her children sick, she said. They now live on the cold sidewalk outside the hospital.
“We don’t have a mattress,” she said. “We only have blankets. Either we cover ourselves with it or we sleep on it.
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