Gaza: Laughter, Tent City and Cold Rains

Despite the misery, cold, torrential rains, destruction, mayhem and round-the-corner killings, Gazans will always have a good laugh. In a way, they have nothing to lose with the pounding Israeli war machine.

One old lady, a displaced person from the north is determined to have the last laugh and be cheerful despite her miserable circumstances. “Smile,” says the cameraman in between the tents.

“I’am not properly dressed,” she tells the photographer. “Oh, don’t worry, get into line,” he replies. “Do you know what make us, Gazans, is we always laugh despite the misery.”

Al Hamdulilah (Thanks be to Allah),” she replies. “My wish is for all this to end and get back to the north to my home,” she says in a matter-of-fact way.

But her home has probably been bombed by the Israelis.


The Gaza weather has been grueling with the cold and wind biting the displaced internal refugees of Gaza who came to assemble right at its very southern tipping point in Rafah. But this is winter, its unfortunate for the refugees, almost hard luck because of the twin elements of climate and war. 

But this week or so, Gaza has been in water, or it should be said the tents of the hundreds of thousands of displaced people are soaked, drenched, cold and soggy. The weather is adding to the plight of the 1.9 million displaced, bombed out of their home and/or forced to leave by the Israeli callous, destructive, inhumane war machine.

It’s an unfolding human tragedy the Israeli government is making, believing the harder they are on the displaced people, the easier it would be to make them to leave Gaza and relocate elsewhere, just another step forward.  

This is Gaza today. People, children, women, tents sleeping in freezing conditions. If not Israeli bombs, it’s the bad weather which is set to continue through low pressure and torrential rain that has swept the Gaza Strip.

The weather is one of the many tests facing people. They are already being starved but swear they will not leave Gaza. Head of the UN agency, UNRWA, Phillipe Lazzarini says hunger is something “never ever known before,” in Gaza. He said his agency encountered “more and more people who haven’t eaten for one, two or three days,” as quoted by the Turkish news agency Anadolu as saying.

It’s a nightmare but the steadfastness of the displaced people is bad news for Israelis who are already making it known they aim to shutdown UNRWA which is responsible for 2.2 million people in Gaza. What’s more of a tragedy is that countries like the USA, Britain, France, Italy and Germany have just announced they are cutting funding to the refugee agency.

This is because the Israelis are telling these countries that 12 UNRWA employees have allegedly taken part in the 7 October attacks on Israel in which 1200 people were killed.

It is devastating for the displaced civilians in the open air. Here camping is not for fun. Gazans are here because they have been forced to leave their homes.

Rain starting last Wednesday, flooded tents and shelters and washing away mattresses, what scarce food there is and sparse clothes. This is no picnic but made at the end of a barrel of a gun which refuses to stop.

When the Israelis tell people to leave, they are forced out, almost immediately, to march with literally just the clothes on their backs.

Most of those who are in Khan Younis or in Rafah, in the south of the Gaza Strip, are three or four-time internal refugees who started from the north of the Strip. They keep going, carefully monitored from the air every time, when they reach a shelter as in an UNRWA school, they are told to leave under the pretext, they have to move to safe areas. But these areas are bombed frequently from the air nevertheless.

One graphic video shows how people are living in war conditions and under freezing weather.  “We drowned during the night from rainwater that entered our tents in the area. The tents provide no protection from the rain, and they are ill-equipped to resist the biting winds and freezing cold,” laments one displaced individual.

Here is Rafah. Maybe the end of the road. This is a city that has bloated to 1.3 million because many of the displaced are assembling here from all over Gaza told to move under Israeli guns. How people are living in the light of the continuing storms and the harsh conditions it is difficult to imagine. These are hungry, cold people that will likely soon suffer.

Torrential rain means cold weather and tents drowning in excessive rainwater. In front of strong winds, the tents become no more than plastic sheeting and vulnerable to go down. It is a life of misery.

Hashtags (#ComplicitInGenocide, #SaveGaza, #DonateToUnrwa) of helping Gaza, are continuing with videos showing the extent of the problem. Rafah is becoming known as tent city. Many are in fear of what the Israeli guns are going to tell them what to do next. Maybe force them to cross into the Egyptian side of Rafah, although this is against international law.

That’s why the Egyptian authorities must not open the Rafah crossing point to these people.

Another speaks of the on-going tragedy. The cold winter can’t tell the difference between a refugee and one who is not. Its tent city in floods.

Marwan Asmar, who has a Ph.D. from the UK’s Leeds University, has long worked in journalism in Jordan and the Gulf countries.

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