Palestinians displaced to south Gaza’s overcrowded areas living on streets

Desperate Palestinians fleeing Israel’s expanding ground offensive are crowding into an ever-shrinking area of the Gaza Strip as the war enters its third month.

Tens of thousands of people displaced by the fighting have packed into the border city of Rafah, in the far south of the strip, and Muwasi, a nearby patch of barren coastline that Israel has declared a safe zone.

With shelters significantly beyond capacity, many people pitched tents along the side of the road leading from Rafah to Muwasi, living packed into unhealthy shelters without enough food.

The United Nations on Friday warned its aid operation is “in tatters” because no place in the besieged enclave is safe. “We do not have a humanitarian operation in southern Gaza that can be called by that name anymore,” the UN’s humanitarian chief, Martin Griffiths, warned.

The World Food Programme (WFP) says its ability to supply basic necessities to Gaza is on the verge of collapse. “There’s not enough food. People are starving,” WFP Deputy Director Carl Skau wrote on X, formerly Twitter, following a visit to the coastal strip.

As only a fraction of the necessary food is reaching the Gaza Strip, there is a lack of fuel and no one is safe, Skau continued in a WFP statement, adding: “We cannot do our job.”

Israel has designated al-Mawasi on the besieged territory’s Mediterranean coast as a safe zone. But the UN and relief agencies have called that a poorly planned solution.

Israeli forces have killed more than 17,700 people in Gaza – 70 percent of them women and children – in two months and wounded more than 48,780, according to the territory’s Health Ministry, which says many others are trapped under rubble.

Israel has said Hamas fighters killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, in its October 7 attack and took more than 240 captives. About 130 captives remain in Gaza, mostly soldiers and civilian men, after more than 100 were freed, most during a truce last month.