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Palestinian human rights organizations warn of 'second Nakba' in Gaza

This file photo shows Palestinian houses destroyed in Israeli strikes at a refugee camp in Gaza City, the Gaza Strip, on November 26, 2023. (Photo by Reuters)

Three Palestinian human rights organizations have issued a stern warning regarding the Israeli regime's forced displacement of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, saying it could lead to another Nakba (Catastrophe) in the besieged territory.

According to the Palestinian Information Center, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Al Mezan Center, and Al-Haq Foundation for Human Rights raised the alarm on Monday, warning about repetition of the historical occasion, which witnessed ethnic cleansing of Palestinian natives by the apartheid regime in 1948.

"Israel persists in implementing its plan to displace the residents of the Gaza Strip out of its borders in the midst of the war it has been waging against the Strip since October 7," the rights bodies said in a statement.

Israel began the current war on Gaza after the territory's resistance movements launched Operation al-Aqsa Storm against the regime on October 7. Since then nearly 16,000 Palestinians have been killed and approximately 1.9 million others displaced as a result of Israel's devastating onslaught. 

The regime has been dropping leaflets across the blockaded territory, ordering its residents to leave their homes and head for the south at short notice. Despite its earlier claims that the southern part of Gaza is a safe zone, the most recent leaflets dropped by Israel announced the southern city of Khan Yunis "a dangerous combat zone," telling the people there to move to the border city of Rafah or a coastal area in the southwest.

Reiterating that “there is no safe place across the Gaza Strip,” the three rights organizations stressed that Israel's evacuation orders, which seek "to forcibly push hundreds of thousands of Palestinians towards Rafah and later to places close to the border with Egypt, have raised concerns over a new Nakba for the Palestinians.”

The regime has also circulated an interactive map dividing the coastal territory into various areas each bearing a specific number to supposedly notify the people of Gaza about where they are supposed to go amid Israel's incessant bombardment.

The human rights organizations emphasized that the Israeli map is aimed at misleading the world with the idea that the regime has been notifying people in Gaza before shelling their homes and civilian structures.

"However, amid cutting off of electricity and the communication blackout, people in Gaza cannot access the map to get informed about the zones they are located within," they added.

Melanie Ward, the chief executive of the humanitarian organization Medical Aid for Palestinians, has said, “I cannot overstate the fear, panic and confusion that these Israeli maps are causing civilians in Gaza, including my own staff. People cannot run from place to place to try to escape Israel’s bombs, nor does international law expect them to.”

According to UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), virtually 1.9 million people -- more than 80 percent of Gaza's population -- have been displaced since October 7 due to Israel’s unrelenting bombardment.

In a statement released earlier on Monday, UNRWA said Israeli airstrikes were ongoing even where people are being forced to flee, including the border city of Rafah.

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