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Israel’s ‘humanitarian zone’ recommendation for Gazans found to be cruel 'mirage'

Israel’s ‘humanitarian zone’ recommendation for Gazans found to be cruel mirage

The Israeli Defense Forces(IDF)-designated safe zone, referred to as a 'humanitarian zone,' has been described as a cruel 'mirage' by aid agencies and Palestinians amidst intensified bombardment in the southwest corner of the Gaza Strip.

People who sought refuge in the ‘humanitarian zone’ established by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) at al-Mawasi, a Bedouin settlement on sand dunes in the southwest corner of the Gaza Strip, have portrayed a dire situation characterized by a lack of shelter and scarce food.

The IDF has kept the option of bombing the area open, asserting that rockets were launched from there, with the most recent incident reported on Wednesday.

The IDF's inconsistent communication regarding al-Mawasi as a safe space has added to the confusion. Maps and instructions distributed to the 2.3 million trapped Palestinians in Gaza depict the territory divided into 623 districts, with changing orange arrows guiding civilians to avoid planned IDF military operations.

Al-Mawasi, however, is not specifically pointed out in these instructions, raising questions about its reliability as a safe haven.

Colonel Elad Goren, head of the civil department of the IDF’s Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (Cogat) branch, confirmed that the army recommends al-Mawasi as a haven for Gazans but acknowledged the risks. The implication is that the area could be used by Hamas to launch attacks, leading to potential danger for Israeli forces.

The settlement is dangerously overcrowded and desolate, with flimsy improvised shelters scattered across a sandy expanse filled with rubbish. The promised aid deliveries are insufficient for the growing number of people seeking shelter, leading to hunger and desperation among the displaced population.

International organizations, including the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and Save the Children International, have expressed concern about the situation. The UNRWA emphasized that unilaterally declared "safe zones" are not safe at all, and nowhere in Gaza can be considered safe.

Alexandra Saieh of Save the Children International warned that concentrating large numbers of civilians in such cramped conditions only exacerbates the already dire humanitarian crisis.

The IDF's refusal to rule out bombing or military operations in al-Mawasi, citing rocket launches from the area, further raises doubt about the safety of the designated zone. Officials recommend that Gazans follow the official map and evacuation instructions, regularly distributed through leaflets, texts, and social media.

The map accompanying these instructions, reportedly from an Israeli blueprint in the 1970s, lists districts to be evacuated and those where Gazans should seek shelter. However, movement anywhere in Gaza is perilous amid intense urban combat, and humanitarian deliveries have completely broken down, creating what the UN's top aid official describes as "apocalyptic" conditions.

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TAGS:Israel Palestine Conflicthumanitarian zone
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