“Where Should We Go From Here?” Displaced Palestinians Pleads

People have become a pawn on the ‘bloody’ chessboard, being ordered to move around according to the whims of the Israeli army

Rafah Gaza 1

The Israeli troop onslaught on the eastern part of Rafah created a fresh exodus of displaced Palestinians who came to assemble here in the last eight months because of Israeli army dictates.

The mass fleeing of Palestinians started soon after Israeli troops entered the eastern part of the city and quickly came to control the Rafah and Karem Abu Salem crossings beginning 7 May. They immediately stopped all aid from entering the city.

Today, 300,000 displaced people have moved out of Rafah and the number is said to increase even higher as the days go by, bearing in mind the city has come to host 1.5 million refugees who came here because they were originally told by the Israelis it is one of the safe areas.

Like before however, since many of these people came from the north and center of the Gaza Strip, the UN states the new forced displacement is the result of the new and fierce Israeli bombardment of the different areas of Rafah.

Go to Al Mawasi!

The Israeli military now wants the displaced Palestinians of Rafah to relocate to Al Mawasi, up north, near Khan Younis to start its military operations on the small city.

Contrary to altercations in his government Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insists his army invades Rafah because he says it still holds four Hamas brigades and must be finished off. But many people, including members of his own government, don’t believe him.

The social media is full of videoclips showing Palestinians, displaced for the third, fourth and fifth time and are on the move again to Al Mawasi with their ragtag belongings and mattresses packed in trucks and with people lounging, exhausted and hungry in search of an elusive safe place.

Their situation is well described by Liala Kafarna:  “They moved us from Gaza and told us to go to the south, after the south to go to Khan Younis, after that we came here to Nuseirat [Camp] and then they brought us to Deir Al Balah and then to Rafah, they said it’s a safe place, it wasn’t safe, we keep moving from one place to another. This child was born during the war. What is his fault?”

Frustration continue to be rife with a sense of hopelessness. “Things are very difficult we don’t know what to do, this is heathenism, [in reference to Israeli actions] were should we go from here,” said Nidal, a displaced person about to leave Rafah on another bleak journey up north.

Men, women, children, old and people in wheelchairs have been moving in the past few days out of the city in a bid to beat the Israeli bombardment. It’s another endless human tragedy.

Most of the displaced people say these are war times and add such a displacement will keep recurring.  “We are in time of war, there is no area that is safe, the bombardment is distributed everywhere,”  says displaced person Mohammad Abu Al Qass.

The Israeli army is now telling Palestinians that Al Mawasi is a safe area they should go to. As they pack their belongings, they know in their heart, this is not true for Rafah and now Al Mawasi are being repeatedly bombed.

Many experts worry that Al Mawasi will not fit the 1.5 million that are expected to come here. Situated on the Mediterranean its length is 12 kilometer and one kilometer wide while it lacks the infrastructure for a mass human flock since it’s a predominantly undeveloped agricultural area.

“Even before today’s evacuation orders, Al-Mawasi was uninhabitable. Our team members report tents stretched endlessly under scorching sun with no relief in sight and no electricity, water or aid,” Tjada D’Oyen McKenna, CEO of the charity Mercy Corps, according to HuffPost


Sumaiya Shabaan says she came here with her family from Rafah. “There is no place for us here, nobody is prepared to meet us and we can’t find a piece of land here to sit on,” she said.

“Me and my family have been here for the last three days sleeping under the open skies,” she added.

Amani Al Fayoumi, also another displaced person from Rafah said she and her family been here for the last four days sleeping in the open cold weather and have no space to hoist our tent. “Where are we and the other people supposed to go,” she asked.

Experts say Al Mawasi can only hold a limited capacity of 100,000 people, yet the Israeli military wants to move more than a million people to the area but this is physically impossible.

“There is nothing here, I hope the specialized authorities will support us, support our kids, look at our situation; we have no roof over our heads, there are no toilets, no health committee, we are without anything that would sustain life,” Shabaan said.

Voices from Gaza continue to be heard, its shocking news from people who once lived in homes that were quickly turned into rubble with the mantal state of the people best summed up by Sanaa Al Kafarna:  “We’re tired. Our mental well-being has been destroyed. There is no mental well-being. Even young ones have been destroyed. My children were not like this before the war. No education. No food. No drink. Nothing, we have no money, no one sends us any aid, we’re are we to go?”

Dr  Asmar, based in Amman, covers Middle East affairs

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