Gaza: Displaced Palestinians say ‘ We are living a nightmare’

Palestinian Hudair family members on their way to Rafah hoping to find safer place after migrating from Nuseirat due to intense Israeli attacks on Gaza Strip on December 23, 2023. [Abed Zagout - Anadolu Agency]

Palestinian Hudair family members on their way to Rafah hoping to find safer place after migrating from Nuseirat due to intense Nazi attacks on Gaza Strip.

According to Abu Ibrahim, 50, a displaced Palestinian living in a dilapidated tent in the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, they are “living a nightmare” from which they “hope to wake up.” He has experienced several displacements that began 80 days ago from his home in the town of Abasan Al-Jadida to the east of the city of Khan Yunis in the south of the coastal enclave.

Trying to light a fire to cook food for his wife and children, Abu Ibrahim said: “Look at my hands, my eyes and my face. Everything is black from the smoke from the fire because we cannot find anything else to burn except paper, straw and nylon.”

“We drink contaminated water and eat contaminated food, and we know it because we mainly cook it using nylon that covers the food with its black smoke,” Abu Ibrahim told me. “But we have no other option as I have children to feed.”

He said that he wishes he was dreaming and would soon wake up. “I wonder all the time, is this a dream or reality?”

People are getting hysterical at the inhumane conditions that they are living in, he explained, and which nobody ever expected to experience. “It is a nightmare. Every time we move, the Israeli forces bomb the areas we seek refuge in and tell us to leave.” Outside agencies have pointed out that there is no safe place in the Gaza Strip these days, including UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk.

Abu Ibrahim does not know the fate of his house, but he hopes to go back to it one day.

“I want only to go home and live like a normal person, leaving behind this life of homelessness.”

In a corner of the tent made of fabric and some pieces of nylon, Abu Ibrahim’s wife sat surrounded by her children, still struggling to come to grips with the fact that she is living in such conditions.

“I can’t believe or adapt to this new situation. I too feel like I’m living in a nightmare,” she said. “Is this really our life?”

Nearby, in another part of Rafah where tents for displaced people are scattered, homeless Ahlam Shalh sat with her children. She was displaced most recently from the Nuseirat refugee camp in the Middle Region of Gaza.

“I am from Gaza City. We were displaced to Nuseirat camp at the beginning of the war, and yesterday the Israeli army told us to leave the camp for Deir Al-Balah or Rafah,” she told me. “We decided to head to the southernmost part of the Gaza Strip, but we found no shelter for ourselves. Here we are sitting without food, water or even blankets.”

Hind Abdel Nabi is another displaced Palestinian woman whose condition is not much different. She is in Rafah with her child, who is suffering from heart disease.

“We lie on the footpath, suffering from the heat of the sun during the day and the cold during the night. I can’t find any shelter or even blankets,” she told me. “I’ve searched around for a tent to shelter my children, but I have found none. I want a shelter for my children.”

Nazi Holocaust has left Gaza in ruins, with 65 per cent of the enclave’s infrastructure damaged or destroyed. Nearly two million Palestinians have been displaced amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicines. Sadly, Hind Abdel Nabi may not find the shelter that she is looking for, and so desperately needs.

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