Wed. Feb 28th, 2024

I awoke Sunday morning, Dec. 3, 2023, to frantic texts from B, a university pupil I mentor in Gaza by means of We Are Not Numbers, a company that helps younger grownup writers publish tales in English. I’m calling him “B” as a result of Palestinians in Gaza worry retaliation from the Israeli Protection Power (IDF) in the event that they publicly talk about their circumstances.

B texted me internationally, which he by no means does as a result of it’s too costly. However Sunday morning he had no Wi- Fi, and he was determined. “They threatened the [area] the place we reside, telling [us] to evacuate to Rafah. We don’t have anywhere to go. Are you able to assist in any respect?”  

He was asking me, an American who lives greater than 5,000 miles away and doesn’t communicate Arabic, to assist him discover someplace protected to go in Rafah.

When the IDF resumed bombing on Dec. 1, 2023, it took goal at Khan Younis, a metropolis within the south of Gaza the place the IDF in October had informed your entire north Gaza inhabitants of over 1 million folks to go. B and his prolonged household had adopted these evacuation orders, and all 70 folks have since been sleeping on the ground of a single massive room, with no electrical energy or clear water and little meals. After they fled, their residence in Gaza Metropolis was destroyed, as was B’s college. The ground in Khan Younis turned all they’d.

Now the IDF was telling them and everybody else in massive swathes of Khan Younis to evacuate but once more, this time to Rafah, or to a “safer” space of Khan Younis. The IDF posted a map on-line, supposedly to inform residents which areas are protected. Criticized for utilizing a web-based map when nobody has electrical energy or dependable Wi-Fi, the IDF responded that individuals in Gaza know the place to go to remain protected.

However B’s household and hundreds of others have no idea the place to go.

Learn Extra: What to Know About Israel’s Increasing Floor Assault in Gaza

Rafah, a small metropolis on the border with Egypt, already was a crowded place earlier than Israel’s assaults, with a inhabitants of about 267,000 residents. After the IDF’s October order to evacuate the north, tens of hundreds extra folks went to Rafah, even whereas the IDF continued bombing there too. Terrified households stuffed each shelter and rented each room.

Now B’s household wanted someplace to remain, they usually have been determined sufficient to ask me. I do know three individuals who have household or pals in Rafah, and right here’s what they informed me:

“My household is sleeping in a home that’s half-bombed,” one particular person stated. “Additionally they have nowhere to go. Individuals now sleep on the streets or of their automobiles. There isn’t another place to go to.” They continued, “East Rafah has been evacuated as per what I heard they usually maintain bombing there insanely. Possibly west Rafah is the most effective. I don’t know. I can’t make sure.”

“It’s not solely powerful, it’s unattainable to seek out something,” one other acquaintance defined. “Individuals whose houses aren’t bombed are already at greater than capability and with everybody being knowledgeable to evacuate to Rafah even colleges are filling up increasingly than they first have been.”

“I requested my good friend who lives in Rafah,” a good friend emailed. “She informed me there was no place there. The scenario is so disastrous.”

Learn Extra: Listening to the Voices of Younger Individuals From Gaza

I referred to as B and, after many tries, lastly acquired by means of. He informed me his uncles had traveled to Rafah to search for someplace to remain. Not solely have been the shelters full, however even shopping for a tent would price 1,000 shekels, about $270 U.S. {dollars}. B’s household of 70 would want a number of tents, they usually have been out of cash, having spent their financial savings on meals and water. I supplied to ship cash however banks are inaccessible and the Western Union workplace close by shut down when its house owners have been pressured to flee.

I requested B about discovering a safer space of Khan Younis, utilizing the IDF map. B stated he’d seen the map solely briefly when he’d had a few minutes of Wi-Fi, however he couldn’t perceive it. “It’s all these numbered blocks, however there aren’t any avenue names and we couldn’t inform which block we’re in, or which blocks are protected,” he stated. “A few of the blocks appear to be uninhabitable land with no buildings.”

Whereas we have been speaking, it was getting darkish there. Vehicles that drive at evening are sometimes bombed and shot at. The household has just one automobile for 70 folks and would want to make a number of journeys even when they’d someplace to go. They resigned themselves to staying the place they have been, hoping for a miracle. 

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