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'Finding a safe place remains elusive' in Gaza

World Friday 08/December/2023 07:58 AM
By: DW
'Finding a safe place remains elusive' in Gaza

The news couldn't be more devastating. After two months, the Israeli military is expanding its ground offensive from the north into the southern part of the Gaza Strip, where tens of thousands of Palestinians have been looking for a safer area to evacuate to.

"We have reached a stage where we no longer feel any security. We have lost our jobs, family members, homes, faith, comfort, and even our city," said Hana Awad, a young female entrepreneur who was displaced from Gaza City in the early days of the war.

Like tens of thousands of other Palestinians from the northern Gaza Strip, Awad and her family had to relocate to Rafah, near the Egyptian border, when Israel launched its ground operation in late October. Though the Israeli military ordered residents to relocate to "safer areas" in southern Gaza, the south, too, has been subjected to heavy bombing. 

Israeli forces have now surrounded the city of Khan Younis and are operating "in the heart" of Gaza's second-largest city, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said on Wednesday. In recent days, the military issued evacuation notices in several parts of the city, telling people to move further westward, or south to Rafah, noting there would be a pause in fighting to allow this to happen.

Prior to the week-long November 24-to-December 1 truce, Israel's military instructed residents in the eastern parts of Khan Younis to leave the area. Israeli military officials claim some Hamas leaders are hiding in Khan Younis, which is also the hometown of its Gaza-based leader Yahya Sinwar, considered the architect of the October 7 terror attacks. 

On Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a video statement that "our forces reach anywhere in the Gaza Strip. Now they are surrounding Sinwar's house," adding, "it's only a matter of time before we get him."