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Israel Has Forcibly Displaced 1.9 Million Palestinians in Gaza

Israel’s assault has displaced over 1 million people just since May, a UN human rights official said.

Displaced Palestinians from areas in east Khan Yunis arrive to the city as they flee after the Israeli army issued a new evacuation order for parts of the city and Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip on July 2, 2024.

Israel’s ongoing assault in Gaza has now forcibly displaced 1.9 million Palestinians, a UN humanitarian official reported on Tuesday as Israel forced another round of evacuations for hundreds of thousands of people across southern and central Gaza.

Israel’s brutal assault and humanitarian blockade has turned Gaza into an “abyss of suffering” and a “maelstrom of human misery,” said Sigrid Kaag, UN Senior Humanitarian and Reconstruction Coordinator for Gaza, in an address to the UN Security Council.

“Following the Israeli offenses against Rafah, since the sixth of May, over 1 million people have been displaced once again, desperately seeking shelter and safety,” said Kaag. “One point nine million people are now displaced across Gaza.”

This amounts to over 86 percent of the 2.2 million person population of Gaza displaced — though the proportion may be larger when the number of Palestinians who have been killed, are missing under the rubble or have died in ways that officials aren’t recording are subtracted from the population estimates. The number of displaced people is up from 1.7 million Palestinians who UN officials said had been forced out of their homes in earlier estimates.

“Behind every statistic, Mr. President, is a human story of hope, dignity and aspirations. And in my visits to Gaza, I met with voices that echo a single, heart wrenching question: Will our suffering ever end?” Kaag went on. She reiterated calls for Israel to open up humanitarian pathways into the region to avoid worsening the man-made humanitarian catastrophe.

Kaag’s testimony came as Israel ordered yet more evacuations in Khan Yunis as Israeli forces struck the area, already leveled by a protracted Israeli invasion, killing at least eight people and wounding over 30. About 250,000 Palestinian have been forced to flee, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) estimates.

The order encompasses European Hospital, from which Palestinians are now rushing to transfer patients to other, already crowded facilities. UN officials said that hundreds of patients have self-evacuated.

“Just weeks after people were forced to return to a devastated Khan Younis, Israeli authorities have issued new evacuation orders for the area. Yet again, families face forced displacement,” the UNRWA said. “Even though nowhere is safe in Gaza.”

Al Jazeera reports some families have tried to flee to Al-Mawasi in the west, a “safe zone” designated by Israel that Israeli forces have bombed anyway, but the area that was already largely unfit for habitation is now at capacity. The majority of Rafah, further south, has been taken over by Israeli forces.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces are also fiercely attacking Gaza City in the north. This has sparked an “exodus” from the eastern part of the city, the UN reported, after days of intense bombardments and tanks entering the region.

According to the UN, about 84,000 Palestinians have been displaced by this massacre, with most families having already fled areas multiple times, their supplies and energy dwindling amid Israel’s intensified famine campaign.

UNRWA’s communications head Louise Wateridge reported from a recent trip to Gaza that the region is “apocalyptic — most people have lost their homes, either completely or partially, and have to flee with very few belongings; essentially what they can carry in their hands.”

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