Creating new perspectives since 2009

UNRWA says 800,000 Palestinians displaced from Rafah during Israel’s offensive in the city

May 20, 2024 at 3:21 pm

A general view of the tents set up by displaced Palestinians in Nuseirat refugee camp after Israeli forces issued evacuation orders for Palestinians in eastern Rafah on May 10, 2024 in Deir al-Balah, Gaza [Ashraf Amra – Anadolu Agency]

Almost 800,000 Palestinians have been displaced from Rafah since Israel began its offensive against the southern Gaza city last week, according to Philippe Lazzarini, the head of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). In a statement on Saturday, Lazzarini condemned the repeated displacement of Palestinians.

“Since the war in Gaza began, Palestinians have been forced to flee multiple times in search of safety that they have never found, including in UNRWA shelters,” the UN official pointed out. “When people move, they are exposed, without safe passage or protection. Every time, they are forced to leave behind the few belongings they have:  mattresses, tents, cooking utensils and basic supplies that they cannot carry or pay to transport. Every time, they have to start from scratch, all over again.”

Lazzarini’s comment came after the Israeli army issued new evacuation orders for parts of northern Gaza on Saturday due to claims of rocket fire from Palestinian fighters in the area.

The Israeli leadership says that it wants to dismantle the last Palestinian Hamas brigades that it alleges are present in Rafah. Allies, including the US, Israel’s strongest backer, have warned repeatedly against launching a large-scale attack on the city bordering Egypt due to the large number of internally displaced Palestinians seeking refuge there.

Israeli forces advanced deeper into the Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza at the weekend, returning to an area they claimed to have cleared earlier in the war.

According to Wafa news agency, at least 31 Palestinians were killed, mostly in a strike on a house, during Israeli dawn attacks on the Nuseirat refugee camp near Deir Al-Balah.

Israel has waged a brutal offensive against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in retaliation for a 7 October, 2023, Hamas cross-border incursion, which the occupation state claims killed under 1,200 people. However, since then, it has been revealed by Haaretz that helicopters and tanks of the Israeli army had, in fact, killed many of the 1,139 soldiers and civilians claimed by Israel to have been killed by the Palestinian resistance movement. More than 35,230 Palestinians have since been killed in Gaza, mostly women and children, and over 79,140 others injured, according to the Palestinian health authorities.

In the West Bank, meanwhile, nearly 500 Palestinians have been killed and thousands more have been wounded since 7 October, along with daily arrest campaigns by the Israeli army.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) which, in January, issued an interim ruling that ordered it to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

READ: Israel soldiers post more videos abusing Palestinian detainees, violating international law