Israel's repeated evacuation orders are negatively impacting Gaza's already weakened population

The evacuation order issued this week by the Israeli military concerns about a third of the Gaza Strip, at a time when the local population is increasingly ill-equipped to manage repeated forced displacements, after nearly nine months of war that have left tens of thousands dead and wounded and put the territory at risk of famine.

The order, which the United Nations estimates affects about 250,000 people, is the largest since October, when about a million residents of the northern Gaza Strip were ordered to leave their homes, the organization said Tuesday.

“It's an endless cycle of death and displacement,” Louise Wateridge, spokeswoman for the main U.N. agency that helps Palestinians, UNRWA, said in voice messages from central Gaza on Wednesday. “People here are expressing that they are losing hope, they are losing willpower, faced with another forced displacement and with no certainty of safety.”

The Israeli army issued a warning on Monday to abandon large parts of the cities of Khan Younis and Rafah, and thousands of people began fleeing on Tuesday. The order was followed by a night of heavy shelling in areas of southern and central Gaza. The order came after the Israeli army said Palestinian armed groups fired a barrage of about 20 rockets from Gaza toward Israeli cities on Monday.

The spokesman for the UN secretary-general, Stéphane Dujarric, said on Tuesday that his colleagues were “deeply concerned” about the impact of the order.

“People are faced with the impossible choice of having to move – some very likely for the second or even third time – to areas that barely have space or services, or to stay in areas where they know heavy fighting will occur,” he said.

The order affects more than 90 school buildings, many of which have turned into crowded shelters as people no longer have a place to stay, along with four medical facilities, Mr. Dujarric said.

Among them is the European Hospital in Khan Younis, where many had taken refuge and hundreds of patients were being treated. After medical staff, patients and displaced people fled the hospital, the Israeli army said Tuesday that there was no need for people to leave.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said on Wednesday that the hospital was no longer operational because many of its staff had left.

Although many people in the evacuation zone have decided to flee once again, the relocation becomes increasingly difficult as the war drags on.

“In terms of people's ability to move, it's been eight months of war, people are extremely tired, exhausted, malnourished,” Ms. Wateridge said. Health-wise, she said, “people are much weaker, there are more wounded, there is less medicine available, less fresh fruit, less water.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *