The Last Shelter / The Last Resort – MESSAGES FROM GAZA NOW – OCTOBER 2023 – February 2024

The last shelter / the last resort

“Civilians will not be harmed. We do not intend to harm civilians. This is a war against terrorists. All civilians must leave Gaza City and the north of Gaza and go to the middle area and the south, to Khan Younis and Rafah. These are the safe shelters.”

From most of Gaza City and the north, more than a million people left for what was called ‘safe shelter’.

The middle area, the south, Khan Younis and Rafah. Were they really safe? Bombing and airstrikes followed the civilians, leaving thousands dead and huge destruction.

A month later, all civilians in the middle area were required to go south to Khan Younis and Rafah, safe areas, safe shelters.

People fled from the middle area, dispossessed, forced to leave, to survive. They saw what had happened to those who did not leave Gaza City and the north.

But Khan Younis and Rafah were not any safer. Killing, bombing, shelling, airstrikes followed them, again leaving thousands dead and huge destruction.

A month later, all civilians had to leave Khan Younis and go to Rafah. Rafah is safe.

More than two thirds of the Gaza Strip population is squeezed into Rafah. The last resort, the last safe place for the civilians of Gaza. Is it really safe? Still bombing, shelling, airstrikes follow people, leaving thousands of dead and huge destruction.

Last night was an example of what is coming to Rafah. 162 people killed in 2 hours, as usual the majority women and children.

People are stuck and paralysed. People have no choice at all.

Since they began talking about invading Rafah, the city changed; the market is less crowded, there are fewer street sellers, no one is moving once dark comes.

At home, most of our talk is about what to do, where to go. Shall we stay? Shall we move again? But to where? And we end the conversation without any answer. We are stuck.

Everyone I meet raises the same questions: Are you staying? Are you planning to leave Rafah? Where would you go?

I don’t know.

We called our daughter Salma, who is in Egypt now. For more than fifteen minutes she was only crying, afraid for us, and we are afraid too. She asks the same questions, and we could provide no answers.

We don’t know.

Why should any human being have to go through this horror? Why?

Rafah is the last city, the last resort. Then the border with Egypt; the border with high walls, huge barbed wire, many observation towers, no access.

Now they call for a military operation in Rafah. Where will people go?

The terrifying stories from Gaza, the north, the middle area and Khan Younis leave people in an unbearable state of panic.

People don’t know what to do, where to go.