The scale of displacement in Gaza is unparalleled

The scale of displacement in Gaza is unparalleled

The New York Times reports:

Up to 1.8 million Gazans — around 80 percent of the population — have been forced to leave their homes since Israel began its bombardment in response to Hamas’s attack on Oct. 7. That number is expected to rise after Israel issued a new evacuation order on Saturday for areas in the south.

Gaza has never experienced so much internal displacement in such a short time. Earlier conflicts forced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes, but refugee experts said the current war was unprecedented for the number of people displaced within the enclave’s 140 square miles.

With Israel barring most Gazans from leaving and shelters swelling to many times over their capacity, humanitarian aid workers say there is no safe place to go as the fighting continues.

There are at least 14 government and United Nations shelters within the new evacuation zone that Israeli forces announced on Saturday. These shelters had registered more than 68,000 displaced people as of Nov. 28.

“People are sleeping on the streets and sidewalks without any means of protection,” said Yousef Hammash, an advocacy officer for the Norwegian Refugee Council, who fled from his home in northern Gaza in mid-October to stay with more than 40 relatives in a two-room home in Khan Younis. “And people in the shelters are trying to convince themselves that it’s a bit more safe than being in the street.”

“The situation before was unimaginable, and now they want to move people again,” he added.

About 1.4 million Palestinans have found shelter in or outside of Gaza’s schools, medical centers, mosques and churches. The rest — as many as a half a million people — are thought to be staying with relatives and even strangers, often sleeping outside in courtyards or crammed into small apartments.

A majority of the displaced have moved south, as intense air- and ground strikes by Israeli forces have destroyed much of the north, making it unlivable. But tens of thousands are estimated to remain in the north, including many who are unable to travel, such as the sick and disabled. [Continue reading…]

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