IDF Corralling Gaza Arabs Alongside Egypt’s Border in the Southern Strip

By David Israel, JEWISH PRESS    Dec 3/23

Displaced Palestinians coming from Jabalia Camp and Beit Hanoun to stay in the government shelter school in the city of Rafah, southern of the Gaza Strip, on November 30, 2023. Stringer/Flash90

In Egypt’s strategic and diplomatic approach, objection to a permanent resettlement of hundreds of thousands of Gaza Arabs stands as a fundamental element for national security. This stance sharply contrasts with Israel’s objective, as it actively directs more Arabs toward the Rafah crossing with Egypt.

Rumors abound in southern Gaza about potential immigration options, with whispers suggesting that Egyptian border guards might be susceptible to bribes, allowing those with the means to enter Egypt discreetly. As unbearable overcrowding persists amid ongoing attacks and conflicts, there’s a growing concern that desperate Gazans may eventually breach the border with Egypt.

Despite Egypt’s early objection to hosting any Gazan Arabs on its soil, the pressing question now centers on whether the Egyptian government will authorize its police to use lethal force against the thousands of desperate, thirsty, hungry, and frightened Gazans attempting to break through the border fence.

THE IDF REDUCES GAZANS’ SHELTER AREA

Lieutenant Colonel Avichay Adraee, head of the Arab media division of the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, on Saturday, issued the following statement on social networks and via leaflets that were dropped by warplanes:

“Residents of the Gaza Strip, the IDF has resumed forceful action against Hamas and other terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip.” The message and leaflets were accompanied by maps of the areas that must be evacuated before the IDF forces enter and kill whoever stands in their way. Essentially, Arabs who are in southern Gaza were told to seek shelter in Rafah, on the Egyptian border. Everywhere else, including Khan Yunis, where the Hamas leadership is now barricaded, will soon be subject to the hellfire of an IDF assault.

The three districts south of the Gaza River: Deir al-Balah, Khan Yunis, and Rafah, are spread over 230 square kilometers (89 square miles). About a quarter of this area is agricultural and theoretically could accommodate the concentration of the additional displaced persons.

However, the IDF has established a one-kilometer-wide no-man’s land along the Strip’s eastern border, where in the future any Gazan who sets foot there would be shot on sight. This means that a stretch of some 30 square kilometers (11.5 square miles) is out of bounds for the displaced Gazans. In addition, the IDF has already ordered the residents of five villages east of Khan Yunis to leave and has demolished many of the homes there in pursuit of hiding Hamas terrorists. Altogether, this means that only about 170 square kilometers (66 square miles) are available to house the fleeing Arabs in the southern Gaza Strip. This is an area roughly twice the size of Manhattan.

The population density of the three districts before the war was 4,347 people per square kilometer. In Manhattan, the population density is 27,346 per square kilometer, but, of course, southern Gaza has few tall residential buildings. In any event, after the evacuation of northern Gaza and the forbidden zones south of the Gaza River, with some 2 million Arabs crammed in, the population density in the shelter zones will be an estimated 11,000 per square kilometer.

The water, electricity, roads, and health infrastructure, which even on normal days could not adequately meet the needs of about a million residents, and are now almost non-functional, and certain to collapse under the burden of about two million people. The plan is to erect a tent city across much of southern Gaza, with sporadic deliveries of humanitarian support.

Ironically, 16 out of the 22 Gush Katif settlements that were abandoned in August 2005 may now become part of the tent city for displaced Gaza Arabs.

If they are not killed in the IDF attacks and the exchange of fire, the residents of the southern Gaza Strip could die from diseases that are always associated with overcrowding and the lack of water and medical care, especially during the rainy season. Their complete dependence on humanitarian aid, without the ability to make a living, will likely generate a crime wave that will add to the mortality figures, especially as the medical facilities are running out of supplies and power.

December 3, 2023 | 1 Comment »

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  1. I am surprised and disappointed by this column by David Israel, which reads like Hamas propaganda. Like Hamas, Israel descibes the Gazans as suffering terribly as a result of the IDFs operations, which he characterizes, as Hamas does, as extremely ruthlass and cruel. He ignores the bringing in of essential supplies, including food, drinking water and medical supplies, by the international aid organizations at the southern border of Gaza, If as some reports indicate, Hamas confiscates these supplies for its fighters, this is obviously not Israel’s fault. Tyhe Idf also distributes humanitarian supplies to Gazans in the areas that that it is occupying. And it has facilitated the transportation of ill and and injured Palestinians to functioning hospitals, including those in Israel,

    What is causing misery to Gazan civilians are the “humanitarian pauses.” By slowing the advance of the Israeli forces and preventing them from quickly occuping the entire strip, these “humanitarian pauses” leave hundreds of thousands of Gazans uner the harsh rule of Hamas, which confiscates the humanitarian supplies intended for them. If Israel was permitted by the U.S. and other “humanitarian: governments, to quickly take control of the entire strip, it would certainly flood the ntire with humanitarian supplies, It was eliminate the Tunnel structures that have made the Gaza hospitals essentially unususable for civilian patients for years under Hamas rule, and and reopen them as genuine hospitals for the first time in many years. Gaza hospitals of their tunnel comolexes and quickly reopen them to serve as genuine hospitals that provide medical care to patients, not higing places for terrorists,

    David Israel has always been a pro-Israel reporter. Apparently he hopes to harness the exaggerated reports of suffering of the Gazan population to pressure the Egyptian government to permit the evacuation of the Gazans to Egypt. This kind of journalistic pressure will have no effect on the Egyptian government because it has never been interested in the well-being of the Gazans,

    Shame on you, David Israel, You mean well, but your reporting in this column is both inaccurate and harmful to Israel.