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Gaza

Attack on Rafah: “We Feel Treated Like Objects”

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The evacuation of Rafah is yet another dramatic episode in the Gaza Strip conflict. Al-Mawasi and Deir al-Balah, where Palestinians are being relocated, are not equipped to accommodate refugees: there is a lack of adequate access to water, electricity, and sanitation. For many families, this is already the fifth displacement in just seven months of conflict. “We feel treated like objects,” say Palestinian doctors collaborating with the Polish Medical Mission.

Over 150,000 people were supposed to leave Rafah before the first phase of the attack on the city. However, the UN estimates that up to 250,000 people may be on the move: many do not believe it will end with one evacuation and fear for their safety. For some families, this is already the fourth or fifth displacement in just seven months of conflict in the Gaza Strip. “Doctors from the Palestinian Medical Relief Society, with whom we are working on-site, had to close three medical points in Rafah because some of them left with the rest of the refugees,” comments Małgorzata Olasińska-Chart, Director of Humanitarian Aid Programs at the Polish Medical Mission. “Let’s remember that the people helping on-site are also civilians and live in constant threat to their lives and health. They tell us that when they are forced into another evacuation, they feel treated like objects.” None of the places to which refugees are redirected are suitable for accommodating such a large number of people. Al-Mawasi and Deir al-Balah are sandy areas where tents will be exposed to increasing heat with each passing week. Additionally, there is insufficient access to water, electricity, or sanitation. Meanwhile, Khan Yunis is already heavily destroyed by fighting: escaping there means sheltering among ruins.

There are no safe places left in the Gaza Strip. Children are dying, people bringing aid are dying. Everyone there is at risk of life.

The number of Palestinian casualties is nearly 35,000, including 14,000 children. Over 480 medics and healthcare workers have also been killed. On the Israeli side, there are over 1,200 casualties, mainly people who died in the Hamas attack on October 7. Polish Medical Mission is assisting on-site along with the local organization, the Palestinian Medical Relief Society. They are currently preparing a second aid package for civilians: the first included basic, locally available medicines, baby formula, and clothing for women and children.

“Unfortunately, due to further blockades of border crossings, the most reliable help is that which can be purchased locally. These are limited supplies of painkillers, remnants of food stocks, clothing, and other completely basic products. A ceasefire and broad opening of borders to humanitarian aid are the only ways to effectively save lives.”

adds Małgorzata Olasińska-Chart.

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