With ‘All eyes on Rafah’, where are millions of Palestinians fleeing amid Israeli strikes?

Israel's airstrikes on Gaza have led to a growing movement questioning if this is Nakba 2.0, as Palestinians are displaced once again. With record numbers killed, people in Rafah are fleeing south to survive the genocidal mission.

Sayantani
Updated29 May 2024
Palestinians flee an area designated for displaced people following an Israeli strike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, on May 27. At least 40 Palestinians were killed in an Israeli airstrike at a camp for displaced people in the southern city of Rafah late Sunday, the Hamas-run Ministry of Health said.
Palestinians flee an area designated for displaced people following an Israeli strike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, on May 27. At least 40 Palestinians were killed in an Israeli airstrike at a camp for displaced people in the southern city of Rafah late Sunday, the Hamas-run Ministry of Health said.(Bloomberg)

All eyes on Rafah: While Benjamin Netanyahu's Israel pounds southern Gaza's Rafah with incessant airstrikes, killing over 45 people in the tiny strip of land, a more pertinent question comes to mind – where are the millions of Palestinians fleeing?

When Israel started the genocidal mission in retaliation to a Hamas attack on October 7, Palestinians were asked to move to South Gaza.

Palestinians had started making the move to southern Gaza to survive. Only months later, Israel continued its airstrike and ground operation in central and south Gaza – every time asking Palestinians to move further south.

ALSO READ: 'All eyes on Rafah': Israel pounds southern Gaza city amid global outrage and ICJ ruling — All you need to know

Israel has defended their operation by stating that their mission 'only' aims to destroy Hamas fighters. However, over thirty thousand Palestinians have lost their lives in the airstrikes, including thousands of children.

Some of those Palestinians have managed to survive the months of airstrike and are making the eighth move, with what little is left of their belongings and life to survive.

On Tuesday, the phrase, 'All eyes on Rafah', flooded social media as several people from across the world came out in support of Palestinians residing in the Rafah city located in war-torn Gaza.

Israel airstrikes the last left safe zone- Rafah

Rafah, a city near the Palestinian territory’s southern border with Egypt, has been under Israeli ground assault since early May. Israel launched an air strike on the so-called “safe area” in Rafah. It was inflicted on an encampment of makeshift shelters just north of Rafah city, in an area called Tal as-Sultan.

ALSO READ: Israeli Army denies hitting Rafah tent amid global outcry: 'Efforts made to minimize casualties but...

The Gaza Government Media Office said Israel dropped seven 900kg bombs as well as missiles on the displacement camp. Refugees were left looking for their loved ones, digging through ash, as civilians sheltering in the Tal as-Sultan area were burnt alive in those shelters.

Where are Palestinians from Gaza fleeing?

Largely, Palestinians have fled or been displaced from various areas in Gaza. Many have sought refuge in neighbouring countries such as Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt, according to local media reports.

Additionally, some have migrated further afield, seeking asylum or resettlement in Europe, North America, and other regions.

ALSO READ: Israeli airstrikes kill 37 Palestinians seeking shelter in tents near Gaza's Rafah

However, since Israel inflated its attacks on Gaza, making it genocidal, Palestinians in Gaza have had one question on their minds – ‘where to go?’

North Gaza to South Gaza to Rafah to..?

Hundreds of people braved roads in Rafah in southern Gaza as they fled Israel’s expanding ground assault, with increased shelling, tanks in the city centre, and forces positioned on higher ground.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) said that around one million civilians had fled Rafah since the ground attack went ahead despite a chorus of international warnings.

ALSO READ: UN Security Council convenes emergency meeting after deadly Israeli strike on Gaza camp kills 45

AFP reporters have seen people carry their belongings and flee western Rafah’s Tal as-Sultan, where a strike that Israel said targeted Hamas killed 45 people

Some were seen transporting piles of mattresses and blankets and dozens of children on the back of trucks.

Others carried what they could in rubbish bags or walked with rolled-up mattresses on their heads.

Palestinians carry aid boxes after storming trucks loaded with humanitarian aid brought in through a new US-built pier, at the beach road of Nusseirat refugee camp, central Gaza Strip.

In the southern city of Khan Younis, AFP reporters saw piles of pillows, mattresses and bags of clothes covering a sandy area where people fleeing Rafah had settled.

Is this Nakba 2.0?

"Exist, resist, return!" A chant that roared at events this month to mark Nakba Day on May 15 seems to have made a return with Israel's airstrikes on Gaza. Nakba Day commemorates the displacement of at least 750,000 Palestinians in 1948 during the founding of Israel.

ALSO READ: Netanyahu calls Israeli strike in Rafah a 'tragic mistake' that killed 45 people

With record numbers of Palestinians killed and displaced once again throughout the occupied Palestinian territory, a growing movement online is asking – is this Nakba 2.0?

 

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