As Israel continues its Rafah offensive, some in Gaza choose to stay

As Israel continues its Rafah offensive, some in Gaza choose to stay

GAZA - Gaza residents have been uprooted time and again during the more than seven months of Israel’s invasion and bombardment. Facing the prospect of having to pack up and flee once more, some in Rafah are putting off leaving, at least for now.

More than 800,000 Palestinians have fled the southern city of Rafah and its surrounding areas over the past three weeks as Israel presses a military offensive there, according to the United Nations. But many are holding on in what was once considered the safest place in the Gaza Strip, where more than 1 million had come to find shelter.

They are exhausted, hungry and know that the next place they flee to likely won’t be safe either. Israel has continued to bombard Gaza, even in areas previously designated as safe.

Israeli forces dropped leaflets ordering people to evacuate and launched a military offensive in May in the eastern part of Rafah, and they have been advancing yard-by-yard deeper into the city. The UN’s top court appears to have ordered Israel to stop its offensive, but Israel, so far, has signalled that it will continue.

Some in western Rafah are waiting to see what comes next before getting out. Others have even fled and returned, having found neither safety nor the essentials of life elsewhere.

“The most despicable word I don’t like to say or hear is ‘displacement,’” 30-year-old Randa Naser Samoud, a math teacher from northern Gaza, said on May 23 as the Israeli military pushed toward the center of the city. “Evacuation means loss of value in life, so much suffering and pain.”

Along with her husband – a dentist – and their three children, Ms Samoud has been displaced four times. They are now living in a tent near a UN warehouse, and though their area has not received orders to evacuate, about three-quarters of the people around them have fled.

As Ms Samoud walked with one of her young sons on May 23, she saw trucks on the street being loaded with the belongings of families preparing to flee.

“The topic of evacuation is not an easy thing to talk about or decide on,” she said. “I am always talking with my husband about the plans if needed but it’s still hard to decide.”

Her father suggested they move to a school building in one of the cities where many people had fled for shelter. But Ms Samoud says that the schools-turned-shelters are not good options because of a lack of sanitation and garbage piling everywhere. She worries her children will get sick.

With each displacement, Gaza residents must start anew, as they often can’t take much with them. Transportation costs can be hundreds of dollars.

“The ultimate horrible thought on my mind is the moment that I have to escape my tent and leave everything I have collected or bought behind me,” she said, pointing to the clothes, dishes and food they have in their tent.

Ms Ahlam Saeed Abu Riyala, 40, said concerns about access to water have kept her and her family of eight in western Rafah after they were displaced four times.

For months, they have been living in a tent steps away from the Egyptian border – close enough to speak to the Egyptian soldiers on the other side. As Ms Abu Riyala stood outside her tent speaking to a neighbour, a water truck nearby pumped out clean drinking water for the displaced people in the camp.

“We are now of two minds; I say we should evacuate Rafah before it is too late, but my husband says ‘no,’” she said. “But we cannot leave for many reasons, and water is the top priority.”

The sounds of Israel’s air and ground invasion keep them on edge. They can hear tanks and, at times, Israeli armed drones that play the message “security” in Arabic or the sound of dogs barking, she said.

Even if they choose to leave, the cost of such a trek might be beyond their means.

“Mentally, physically and financially, I’m exhausted and fed up with the word ‘evacuation,’” she said. “I hate my life and all of this suffering.” NYTIMES

OTHER NEWS

22 minutes ago

Colorado Asks People to Avoid Using Their Cars

23 minutes ago

'I’d like a number one record...' Nathan Dawe reveals ambition for 2024

23 minutes ago

Alan Hansen's former teammate gives health update on Liverpool legend

23 minutes ago

Tom Brady is full of praise for his Patriots replacement: "His future looks bright!"

23 minutes ago

Shaboozey wants collaboration with Sabrina Carpenter

23 minutes ago

Theo James appointed UNCHR Goodwill Ambassador

23 minutes ago

Sean 'Diddy' Combs returns key to New York City

24 minutes ago

House Of The Dragon Season 2 Repeats A Huge Season 1 Mistake

24 minutes ago

The Tragic True Life Story Of Deadpool 2's Rob Delaney

24 minutes ago

This Week: Existing home sales, retail data for May and Kroger's first-quarter results

24 minutes ago

Reclusive Taliban leader warns Afghans against earning money

24 minutes ago

Sea turtles are under threat from trawlers in the Adriatic. A center offers them a sanctuary

27 minutes ago

ANALYSIS: Jets GM has his work cut out for him on the free agency front

30 minutes ago

Video: Nigel Farage says 'broken Britain' is in 'cultural decline' as he unveils Reform manifesto - banning 'non-essential' immigration, slashing £50bn off public spending, make St George's Day a bank holiday and scrap BBC licence fee

30 minutes ago

Top MMA insider Ariel Helwani is a looming free agent

31 minutes ago

He used to back Just Stop Oil – now he’s pumping millions into Labour

31 minutes ago

Wills visits St George's Park to wish England team luck in Euros

31 minutes ago

Fraudsters exploit taxpayers with fake SARS notices

32 minutes ago

Opinion poll round-up on day 26 of the election campaign

32 minutes ago

Fatal fishing trip in Bantry Bay, Cape Town

32 minutes ago

Remoaner plot to unseat Tory MPs in more than 450 seats at election

32 minutes ago

Head coach Jonathan Trott looking to seal perfect group stage record against West Indies

32 minutes ago

Aldi makes huge change to crisps - and it's good news for shoppers

32 minutes ago

Brian Cox wows BBC viewers as he tears into Nigel Farage and brands him a 'fascist'

32 minutes ago

ABC trying to drive a ‘political wedge’ into nuclear policy

32 minutes ago

OPINION - Rachel Reeves is finally in the spotlight — but what if her sums don't add up?

32 minutes ago

Good Morning Britain's Ed Balls 'fat-shamed' on air as ITV show abruptly cuts to break

32 minutes ago

Man Stunned at Way FedEx Driver Delivered $1,000 Birthday Gift: 'Tainted'

32 minutes ago

'Resilient' Latrell ready for Origin comeback

32 minutes ago

Introducing the KHOU 11 Neighborhood Weather Network

32 minutes ago

What Happened To Avery Brooks After Star Trek: Deep Space Nine?

32 minutes ago

Attempted murder suspect escapes from custody in California

32 minutes ago

Germany's biggest industrial union seeks a 7% raise for millions of workers

32 minutes ago

Key moments at the Tonys: Jay-Z and Hillary Clinton in the house, strides for women and a late upset

32 minutes ago

Sunak: Tories can win General Election but people’s frustration ‘undeniable’

32 minutes ago

Who is Christina Unkel? American rules analyst and VAR expert adds insight for ITV during Euro 2024

32 minutes ago

Drink coffee? 5 most expensive states for a cup of Joe, according to sales data

32 minutes ago

Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang says a Japanese gardener taught him one of the most ‘profound learnings’ of his life—it’s why he can be on top of every detail at the $3.2 trillion chip giant

32 minutes ago

R.E.M.'s Bill Berry regretted quitting after onstage aneurysm as band reunites for first interview in 30 years

34 minutes ago

Houston ISD’s Black and Latino students show significant improvement on STAAR exam, says Superintendent Miles