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Israel’s Offensive in Rafah Leaves Palestinians in Dire Conditions

For the past three weeks, Israel’s offensive in Rafah has forced nearly a million Palestinians to flee the southern Gaza city, spreading out across a wide area. These families, already displaced multiple times during the nearly eight-month-old war in Gaza, now face severe hardships in tent camps stretching over 16 kilometers along Gaza’s coast.

Here are the key details:

Living Conditions in Tent Camps:

  1. The tent camps, which cover beaches, fields, and town streets, lack basic sanitation. Families dig trenches for toilets, while fathers search for food and water, and children scavenge for materials to burn for cooking. Mohammad Abu Radwan, a displaced schoolteacher, describes living in a tent with his extended family, lacking clean water and electricity, and struggling with constant displacement and loss.

Humanitarian Crisis:

  1. The situation has been exacerbated by a significant reduction in aid. Incoming aid primarily enters through two northern Gaza crossings from Israel and a US-built floating pier. However, the amount of food, fuel, and supplies reaching the U.N. and aid groups has plummeted. The U.N. reports a drastic decrease in humanitarian convoys, now averaging 53 trucks per day, far below the 600 trucks needed to prevent starvation.

Economic Strain:

  1. Many Palestinians cannot afford the available fruits and vegetables due to a lack of salaries and dwindling savings. Even those with bank accounts struggle to access funds because of a cash shortage, often resorting to black market exchanges with high fees.

Health and Sanitation Issues:

  1. In the humanitarian zone declared by Israel, centered on Muwasi, conditions are dire. There are few operational hospitals and no sewage systems, leading to widespread gastrointestinal diseases, hepatitis, and lice infestations. The area is largely barren, with no water resources, and human waste and garbage pile up near the tents.

Impact of the Offensive:

  1. Israel’s offensive in Rafah aims to destroy Hamas following their October 7 attack, which killed approximately 1,200 people and resulted in around 250 abductions. Gaza’s Health Ministry reports that Israel’s campaign has killed around 36,000 people. Despite warnings from aid groups, the offensive continues, with fighting spreading to central Rafah and causing further displacement and casualties. A recent strike on a tent camp killed at least 45 people.

The humanitarian disaster in Gaza worsens as families like Tamer Saeed Abu’l Kheir’s struggle daily to find water, food, and basic necessities, living in fear of losing their loved ones amid the ongoing conflict.

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