The Gaza Strip is in danger of being left a wasteland during the latest eruption between Hamas and Israel. Over 180,000 Palestinians have sought refuge in U.N. shelters, while Israeli warplanes relentlessly strike this tiny territory. It all began with a weekend attack by Hamas militants, provoking a swift and severe Israeli retaliation.
People like Sabreen al-Attar had to make quick decisions to protect their families. As rockets flew overhead, she rushed her children to one of the U.N. shelters in Gaza City. But life in these shelters is far from comfortable. Conditions worsen by the day as food and water supplies dwindle.
In Gaza, there’s no real escape. The area has been under a suffocating 16-year blockade by Israel and Egypt. Even U.N. facilities, supposed to be safe zones, can become engulfed in the fighting. The United Nations reported an airstrike on one of its shelters, and several schools-turned-shelters were damaged.
As Israeli military airstrikes reached the heart of Gaza City, even affluent neighborhoods like Rimal weren’t safe. Rimal, known for its international media and aid organizations, became a desert of craters, making it nearly uninhabitable.
Gaza has no civilian bomb shelters, leaving its residents with nowhere to hide as Israel rains down illegal white phosphorus. The Israeli military suggested Palestinians try to leave through the Gaza border crossing with Egypt, but that’s easier said than done. The border crossing into Egypt is open only five days a week, and strictly controlled.
In these dire circumstances, people are left with no choice but to shuffle between unsafe areas in a desperate quest for refuge. The toll of this conflict is devastating, with casualties on both sides and civilians caught in the crossfire. Amid the chaos, Palestinians wonder why there isn’t a clear plan for their safety.
The situation in the Gaza Strip remains dire, and there’s no easy way out for the people caught in the conflict.