Talking to people in the Gaza Strip has become more complicated. Earlier this week, in light of the interruption of phone communications and the Internet, this newspaper made contact with the director of the Palestinian NGO, Fadi Abu Shamala (39 years old), and with the Dutch Palestinian Abdel Attar (32 years old) from Almir, who was visiting his family in Gaza.
To overcome power outages, Gazans are looking to using SIM cards as an alternative; Digital SIM cards are built into mobile phones, allowing the user to switch between networks. “But to achieve this you need a good, modern smartphone, and this is only an option for a very small minority,” says Fadi Abu Shamala. He last called on Monday evening Norwegian Refugee Council From the city of Khan Yunis in the south of the country. An SMS arrived on Friday afternoon stating that the family was still safe.
The Palestinian father of three young sons admitted that he, like his family, fears that those who testify about what is currently happening in Gaza will become a target. “But if we no longer witness, Gaza will turn into a big black screen and no one will know what is happening here.” Israel does not allow international journalists to work independently.
Early in this violent escalation of the conflict, Fadi Abu Shamala fled with his family from Gaza City, in the north, to Khan Yunis. However, on Thursday, the army also distributed warning leaflets in southern Gaza, international news agencies reported. Residents were asked to “go to known shelters,” although it is not clear exactly where.
according to Satellite images Israel also launched air strikes on the southern cities of Rafah and Khan Yunis, despite demands from civilian residents in recent weeks to move to the supposedly safe south. The border crossing with Egypt, in Rafah, is only opened from time to time, and mainly for people who hold another nationality in addition to the Palestinian nationality.
For Dutch-Palestinian Abdel Attar, every day has revolved around one for more than two weeks Facebook page, which he updates frantically – on an expensive Dutch Internet package. Lists are published there in the evening with the names of the sick, wounded and Palestinians with a second passport who can come to the border post in Rafah to cross the next morning at seven o’clock.
A total of 26 people With a Dutch residence permit, their relatives succeeded, including six members of the Al-Attar family, with whom he traveled to Gaza to celebrate the wedding of one of their cousins. Only Abed Al-Attar’s name was missing from the list published on November 1. His relatives returned to the Netherlands, and he is still waiting for his name to appear on the Excel list. In addition to Al-Attar, there are at least 13 other Palestinians linked to the Netherlands in the same situation, according to the Foreign Ministry.
And the letters he and his wife Fatima – who is still in Almere with their two young children – have been receiving since then Norwegian Refugee Council The steering takes on a more monotonous and repetitive character. Have you heard anything yet? “No, we still don’t know anything,” is heard over and over again. Sunday evening, just before midnight: “My name is not on the new list again.”
In light of all this misery, and at a distance from his family, he considers himself lucky because he can take care of his parents in the family home in Deir al-Balah, also in the south of the Strip. “If I can finally leave, part of my heart will stay here with them.”
Another family with her Norwegian Refugee Council In touch, recently promoted hydrologist Alaa Odeh, his wife and two young children were able to fly to the Netherlands via Egypt on Wednesday and from there they will travel to the United Kingdom, where Odeh works. “I’m exhausted,” he says in a voice message. He did not consider himself able to give an interview. The journey from Gaza City via a corridor to Rafah took its toll on him, after weeks of tension over whether his family would be able to leave Gaza alive.
The need for those left behind is growing. For example, National Arab Hospital stopped surgeries on Thursday. The Indonesian hospital suffers from a shortage of medicines. Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis is still operating, says Fadi Abu Shamala, but it also suffers from a lack of medical equipment and is also accommodating thousands of displaced people. Abu Shamala’s brother and his wife work as nurses in the hospital. He added: “There is a high risk of infection and the emergency alert level has been modified from red to black, which is the most urgent level.”
Today, Wednesday, Israeli occupation forces stormed Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. Last weekend, nurses there incubated more than thirty premature babies. They wrapped the children in blankets to keep them warm. Six of them died in recent days.
White phosphorus over Gaza p. 8-9