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Journey into Unknown: Thousands of Gazan Families flee Rafah

Migration 2024-05-08, 10:05pm


Displaced Palestinians leaving Rafah towards central Gaza. UN News-Ziad Taleb

7 May 2024 - Displacement after displacement. That describes the reality facing thousands of Palestinian families in Gaza who took Rashid Street from Rafah to the centre of the Gaza Strip after receiving evacuation orders from Israeli authorities on Monday to move to Al Mawasi, a coastal area of the besieged enclave.

Stranded, their homes demolished, loved ones killed and repeatedly displaced on their land, they had sought refuge in Rafah in the far southern reaches of the Strip to escape death and destruction and to find a safe place that does not exist.

They are now heading along the coastal road again to an unknown fate with the start of military operations in the eastern areas of Rafah.

UN News’s Ziad Taleb, who is in Gaza, spoke with several Palestinians who made the journey.

‘Every hour we are displaced’

Sobhi Massoud shared his confusion at the new developments. The elderly man has been displaced several times after all his children were killed and his property was destroyed in Jabalia camp. He finally ended up in the city of Rafah, which Israeli authorities have declared a safe zone.

But, his suffering did not end there.

“Every day we are displaced. Every hour we are displaced,” he said.

He explained that he had been forced to flee again to the Al-Mawasi area, which lacks the most basic necessities. He pointed to his cane on which he leaned.

“It’s all gone,” Mr. Massoud said. “This is the one thing that remains. I can’t even find a mattress to sleep on.”

‘Fed up with life’

Abu Kamal al-Yaziji, who was displaced from Gaza City in the north, said what was happening in the enclave was unprecedented.

Directing his voice to the Israeli authorities, he said “this is not a self-defense operation; what you are doing is revenge.”

He added that if he had the opportunity to sell his property even at half its value to send his children and grandchildren out of Gaza, he would have done so to secure their future.

“I am fed up with life. There is no life in Gaza," he said.

"Gaza has no future. The people of Gaza have never seen such suffering. What is happening now is something we have never seen nor felt nor will see again in our lifetimes.”

‘Gaza has nothing but God’

Young Mohammed Salah Rajab’s journey began in the Zeitoun neighbourhood, then on to his sister’s house in Khan Younis and then to the Hay al-Salam area in Rafah.

After shelling over the past few days and informing residents of the need to evacuate, he took refuge in Deir Al-Balah, which is an area adjacent to Al-Mawasi. Mr. Rajab said he does not know what awaits him now.

“We don't know what our fate is,” he said. “We expected the ceasefire deal would be reached, and we would go to Gaza City, but the opposite happened. Only God knows what will happen to us.”

The young Gazan hoped that his voice would reach the world outside.

“Gaza has nothing but God,” he said. – UN News