Israel-Hamas war: Displaced Palestinians from Rafah struggle to survive

Heba al-Haddad, right, and her family displaced from Gaza City, stand in a makeshift tent camp in Rafah, southern Gaza, Friday, March 29, 2024. Al-Haddad was forced out of her
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Fatima Shbair/Copyright 2023, The AP. All rights reserved

Gaza City

Dozens of displaced Palestinians gathered on Saturday to fill containers with water in northern Muwasi where thousands of refugees live in dire conditions with little to no access to clean water, sanitation or toilets.

The suffering has been compounded by the soaring early summer heat in the overcrowded camp.

In recent weeks, thousand have fled the southernmost city of Rafah for northern Muwasi, after Israel began a new military offensive in Rafah.

But the camp lacks basic facilities.

“Life is unbearable,” Mazen Abdel Dayem, a displaced Palestinian from Beit Hanoun, said.

“There is no sewage network and no water… there is no one to provide water for us or the municipality to clean up the dumped garbage and the bombing sites, there is no life.”

Almost the entire population of Gaza relies on humanitarian aid to survive.

Israeli restrictions and ongoing fighting have hindered humanitarian efforts, causing widespread hunger and a “full-blown famine” in the north, according to the U.N.

The international charity Oxfam, meanwhile, warned of disease outbreaks in Gaza following an estimated $210 million worth of damage to water and sanitation infrastructure, mass displacement and the onset of summer.

Israel says it places no limits on the entry of humanitarian aid and blames the U.N. for delays in distributing goods entering Gaza.

Under pressure from the U.S., Israel has in recent weeks opened a pair of crossings to deliver aid into hard-hit northern Gaza.

It said a series of Hamas attacks on the main crossing, Kerem Shalom, have disrupted the flow of goods.

The war began when Hamas and other militants stormed into southern Israel on October 7, killing around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking another 250 hostage.

Militants still hold about 100 captives and the remains of more than 30 after most of the rest were released during a cease-fire last year.

More than 35,000 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed since Israel launched an offensive in the enclave in response to the attack, local health officials say.

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