The exodus begins in Gaza

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The exoduses in the Middle East have biblical meaning. Jews, Christians and Muslims have suffered throughout history, and after the dead, there is no more powerful image in the region than that of families expelled from their homes, carrying everything they can, heading towards an uncertain and precarious.

If the Middle East continues to be the most turbulent region in the world today, it is largely due to the forced displacement, between 1947 and 1949, of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from what is now Israel. A significant part of these people settled in Gaza, in refugee camps such as Jabalia and Beach Camp.

80% of Gaza's population descends from those first refugees. For this reason, the message that more than a million Gazans received on their cell phones at two in the morning yesterday had the weight of a curse rather than help.

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“Civilians of Gaza City,” the army note said, “evacuate to the south for your safety and the safety of your families and to distance yourself from the Hamas terrorists, who use you as human shields.” The deadline was 24 hours, although the Israeli army later admitted that “it will take time,” implying that those on the way will be safe from the bombs.

Palestinian families resort to any means to comply with Israel's order to evacuate northern Gaza

Palestinian families resort to any means to comply with Israel's order to evacuate northern Gaza


However, only a few thousand people heeded the order, which also rained from the sky in the form of leaflets. Most chose to stay home. Some because they prefer to defy death rather than continue carrying the stigma of being a refugee and others because they are simply too old, they don't have the way to get around, they sympathize or are afraid of snubbing Hamas.

The Islamists have asked Gazans not to heed the evacuation notice, not to be victims of Israel's “psychological warfare,” although it is evident that it needs them to stop the announced land invasion. They are human shields and always have been. Hamas would not have survived without them. There are many houses and rooftops that are used to launch the rockets that, even today, a week after the war started, continue to fall on Israel.

In Gaza there is only one road that goes south and it is badly damaged by bombing. Cross the wadi Gaza, the dry river and the valley that divides the strip in two means avoiding the ruins of the destroyed buildings and daring to walk several hours on foot. The little gasoline that remains is in the vehicles of the wealthiest families, who have also had underground garages to store them. The most vulnerable, as always, are left behind, and these are the vast majority.

OCHA and Palestine Central Statistics Office

OCHA and Palestine Central Statistics Office


The UN has asked Israel to reconsider the order because it will have “devastating humanitarian consequences.” There are already 400,000 homeless people and in the south there is nothing to accommodate those arriving from Gaza City, Jabalia and Beach Camp, among other towns.

The exodus is worsened by the lack of water, food and electricity, and the difficulty of transporting the wounded. There are more than 7,300, according to the latest count, and the dead exceed 1,800. The WHO states that the mobilization amounts to “a death sentence” for the injured.

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The UN warns Israel that the order will have “devastating humanitarian consequences”

Egypt has asked friendly countries to send urgent help to stop the coup in any way possible. From the El Arish airport he plans to take it into Gaza through the Rafah border, but the Israeli air force has attacked it twice and it is useless. Even if it were not, Israel has warned that it will not open any humanitarian corridors or restore water and electricity services until Hamas releases the 150 hostages it captured a week ago, when it invaded Israel and murdered more than 1,300 people living in the outskirts of Gaza.

Smoke rises from an explosion after an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, in the Gaza Strip, this Friday

Smoke rises from an explosion after an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, in the Gaza Strip, this Friday

AP Photo/Hatem Ali

The country remains shocked by this unprecedented tragedy, and support for the military strategy is unwavering. Furthermore, the solidarity mobilization of the population is exemplary. Volunteers in dozens of organizations and restaurants prepare rations for soldiers and take them to the bases.

The Ministry of Defense has mobilized 360,000 reservists in a few days and cannot feed them all. A few days ago, the Ha'achin pizzeria in Tel Aviv prepared 2,000 portions, packaged them and took them to a base. When they arrived, the guard stopped them, took a ration and took it to the rabbi of the detachment. This man, clearly emerging from the Old Testament, refused food because he was not kosher.

The story was explained to me by another rabbi, sad because the most intransigent build walls of unreason. "The logical thing," he told me, "would have been to allow each soldier to decide whether or not he wanted the pizza, but the rabbi imposed his criteria on some young people called to defend their country for a State that not only cannot feed them, but has broken the social contract by which he had agreed to protect them.”

This aerial view shows a house hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, in Ashkelon, on October 13.

This aerial view shows a house hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip in Ashkelon, Israel, this Friday


The decision to invade has been made, but the order is missing. The US has asked Israel to respect “the rules of war,” which means protecting civilians when troops enter. However, telling them to leave their homes so as not to die under fire is minimal protection that, by itself, does not guarantee life either. That's why so many Gazans have preferred not to move. From Moscow, Vladimir Putin yesterday compared the situation to the Nazi siege that Leningrad suffered during World War II.

The war has also claimed the lives of eight journalists in Gaza, where they were covering the situation in the enclave. Yesterday another, from Reuters, died in southern Lebanon, and five others were wounded by Israeli artillery.

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