In early November, an Israeli bomb upended Mona Abdel Raheem’s life in Gaza.
The explosion destroyed her dwelling and killed her neighbour in Jabalia, a densely populated refugee camp within the north of the enclave. Abdel Raheem had no alternative however to flee south along with her husband, sisters and grandchildren.
They have been amongst 1.1 million Palestinians who heeded Israel’s command to evacuate northern Gaza, an order that will quantity to the compelled switch of a inhabitants, which is a warfare crime.
“We left and didn’t have time to take anything from our home. Everything around us was destroyed,” Abdel Raheem, 63, advised Al Jazeera from Rafah, a metropolis within the southern Gaza Strip.
Abdel Raheem has lived by a number of wars however none as devastating as Israel’s present onslaught on Gaza. UN specialists, rights teams and the International Court of Justice (ICJ) have all warned that Palestinians in Gaza face an actual threat of genocide until Israel halts its assaults towards them.
Since Hamas’s shock assault on Israeli communities and navy outposts on October 7, wherein 1,139 individuals have been killed and 240 taken captive to Gaza, Israel has retaliated by punishing the complete inhabitants of Gaza, in accordance with specialists and Palestinians.
Abdel Raheem recalled her exodus from northern Gaza in addition to the deaths of family members killed by Israeli bombing, which has flattened almost all the pieces within the besieged enclave.
“The occupying [Israeli] forces carry responsibility for destroying all our homes and all our trees and for killing our children,” Abdel Raheem advised Al Jazeera. “Why don’t any of the Arab or European countries care about the Palestinian people? Palestine is being destroyed.”
Abdel Raheem had not been born but when 700,000 Palestinians have been expelled from their homeland to make method for the creation of Israel in 1948 – an occasion referred to in Arabic because the Nakba, or disaster. But, like all Palestinians, she grew up studying concerning the Nakba and all the time yearned to return to her household’s village.
She by no means imagined that she would stay by one other mass exodus. However, as she was fleeing Jabalia, Abdel Raheem sensed that historical past was repeating itself.
She recalled strolling in humiliation with lots of of hundreds of Palestinians – males, girls and kids – previous Israeli troopers. Along the best way, she noticed dozens of individuals’s our bodies rotting on the highway after they have been killed by Israeli shelling.
Hundreds of individuals have been additionally detained at every Israeli checkpoint. The treacherous journey took days.
“As we were walking, there were people being killed by Israeli warplanes,” Abdel Raheem stated. “They were being killed directly in front of us.”
The expulsion of Palestinians from northern Gaza is the newest chapter of Palestinian dispossession, in accordance with Shatha Abdulsamad, an professional on Palestinian refugees with Al-Shabaka, a Palestinian assume tank.
“I think the Israelis are trying to finish the job that they started in the Nakba in 1948. What we are seeing in Gaza is no exception. The only exception is that the scale of the destruction is unprecedented,” she advised Al Jazeera.
Killing support employees
On November 24, Abdel Raheem acquired information that Israeli shelling killed her brother-in-law and his household in northern Gaza.
Osama was an Arabic language supervisor for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), which has supplied healthcare, training and different companies to Palestinian refugees because the Nakba. Osama was killed alongside together with his son, daughter-in-law and three granddaughters.
“He didn’t have any relation with any armed organisation or Palestinian movement. He was a civilian,” Abdel Raheem stated.
Since October 7, Israel has killed greater than 150 UNRWA employees with its indiscriminate bombardment of Gaza. That’s the very best variety of UN employees killed in any battle because the UN was based in 1945.
The killing of UNRWA workers is emblematic of Israel’s broader assault towards the help organisation.
On the identical day that the ICJ dominated it “plausible” that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza, the Israeli authorities alleged that 12 UNRWA workers took half in Hamas’s October 7 assaults.
But in accordance with Channel 4 News, which obtained inner Israeli intelligence paperwork, Israel supplied no proof that UNRWA workers have been concerned within the October 7 assaults.
Despite the shortage of proof, quite a lot of Israel’s Western allies – resembling Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States – minimize funding to UNRWA whilst famine looms attributable to Israel’s siege on Gaza.
“If UNRWA stops, then everything will collapse on Palestinians,” stated one Gaza UNRWA worker, who will not be authorised to talk to the press.
“All the requirements to sustain life will be destroyed, especially for the elderly and for children.”
At the tip of January, Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani travelled to Paris to fulfill intelligence officers from Israel, Egypt and the US.
They mentioned a doable humanitarian pause whereby Hamas would launch girls and kids held captive in alternate for a scale-up in humanitarian support. Steps to safe a everlasting ceasefire would observe.
News of the assembly reached Gaza, the place rumours unfold that an finish to the warfare was imminent. Over X (previously Twitter), movies surfaced of kids, aged males and youngsters dancing and celebrating the information. Abdel Raheem hoped, even praying, that the rumours have been true. But the truce has but to materialise.
We wish to go dwelling! We wish to go dwelling!”
Palestinians chant and have fun the information of a purported ceasefire settlement.
— sajida afzal (@mahadabdul36) February 2, 2024
“Every day, every hour, every minute and every second, we all fear that we are going to die,” Abdel Raheem stated with resignation.
Those fears have been compounded when Israel introduced on Friday that it was going to focus on Rafah, an space close to the Egyptian border the place about 1.8 million Palestinians like Abdel Raheem have sought shelter.
Most civilians in Rafah are staying in residential buildings or sleeping on the chilly streets in tents. Abdel Raheem and her husband are staying in a center faculty for women that’s now an UNRWA shelter
Some Israeli intelligence and authorities officers have lengthy referred to as for all Palestinians in Gaza to be expelled to Egypt. However, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has made it clear that he wouldn’t help any transfer that might result in the everlasting displacement of Palestinians from Gaza.
Abdel Raheem stated that even when she may cross into Egypt, she would favor to die on her land.
“There is no way we are going to Egypt. This is our country and our land. We are Palestinian,” she stated.
“If we die, then we want to die here.”