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Evacuating south

Rimas’ family lives in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip. They had just completed the construction of their home two months prior.

“The Israeli occupation asked us to evacuate,” Rimas’ father said, upon returning home from the grocery store.

The evacuation orders came at the beginning of October, in the form of leaflets dropped from the sky.

With no means of transport, the family were unsure what to do.

“After two horrifying, unbelievable hours, we called my aunt’s husband, as he has a car,” Rimas said.

It was a desperate scramble for safety. They took refuge in her grandmother’s home as the Israeli occupation dropped bombs nearby.

The family were terrified.

The next leg of their journey was on foot, and they traveled toward al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City. Since the Israeli forces had imposed specific evacuation times, people were torn between fear and necessity and forced to navigate dangerous streets.

Palestinian residents conduct a search and rescue operation among the destroyed buildings after Israeli attacks in Maghazi refugee camp in Gaza, 11 December 2023. (Naaman Omar / APA Images)

Gaza will rebuild

The family traveled from place to place, yet nowhere was safe. They ended up at Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza.

Rimas felt that all of her limits had been tested, that every day was a struggle for survival.

This is more than a war, Rimas said, “it is a deliberate act of genocide” and “an assault on the very essence of humanity.”

At the Maghazi camp, the family endured the realities of life after evacuation. They had no privacy, no food.

They cooked their meals on an outdoor fire.

Rimas is unsure what the future holds, but she knows she wants to return home. To her, home is sacred.

She is confident that Gaza will rebuild.

Source: Eman Alhaj Ali is a journalist and translator based in Gaza.

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