Displaced Palestinians living in tents (Picture: Christian Aid Ireland)

The crisis in Gaza now centres on Rafah, in the south. Most of the people that once lived across the whole of the Gaza Strip are now penned into an area the size of just 400 football pitches.

The space must now accommodate more than 1.9 million people.

Many of those now living in makeshift tents have no blankets or warm clothes. Mud and flooding caused by heavy rainfall in the last two weeks have made conditions even more perilous.

Ibitsam, from Deir el‑Balah in central Gaza, is one of those now living in Rafah.

She told Socialist Worker last week that after two days of non-stop rain, the suffering of people in Rafah is “indescribable”.

“Children are dying from cold and hunger,” she said. “I am dying of sadness for them. Please tell the whole world Palestinians are dying. We are not pretending.”

Those in Rafah are terrified that Israel will soon begin a large scale assault.

Occupation forces were shelling and conducting air strikes on the outskirts of the city early this week.

Israeli defence minister Yoav Gallant last week said, “The Khan Younis Brigade of the Hamas organisation is disbanded, we will complete the mission there and continue to Rafah. We will continue until the end.”

People in Rafah said on Monday that they could hear shelling in eastern Rafah and in Khan Younis.

“Most of Gaza’s ­population is in Rafah,” Emad told Reuters news agency.

“If the tanks storm in, we will be left with two choices—stay and die or climb the walls into Egypt. It will be a massacre like never before during this war.”

Jens Laerke of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said, “Rafah is a pressure cooker of despair and we fear for what comes next.”

Biggest aid group in Gaza could collapse

The largest humanitarian organisation in Gaza could completely collapse by the end of this month if leaders in the West continue to withdraw funding from it.

Western countries, including Britain and the United States, jumped at the opportunity to withdraw funding from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (Unrwa).

This followed Israel’s claims that some Unrwa workers were part of the Hamas attack on Israel on 7 October.

The funding these states contribute to Unrwa has in the past made up over three-quarters of its total budget.

It will take Gaza until 2092 to restore economic production levels to the same as 2022.

That’s the key finding of a report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

It says even if Israel’s war was to end immediately, with reconstruction starting right away—and previous growth trends persist—production wouldn’t return to “normal” levels for over 65 years.

Israel has failed to crush resistance

Palestinian resistance fighters are still battling Israeli forces in Gaza.

They have killed three Israeli troops so far this week. That brings the Israeli troops’ death toll since the invasion up to 223.

Last Sunday, Israeli forces said that they had taken control of a Hamas brigade headquarters in southern Gaza. They bragged that they could take control of Khan Younis in just one week.

But Israeli forces have been trying to take Khan Younis for months.

In early December the Israeli army said it was engaging in its biggest ground offensive yet to take the city.

But almost two months on it is still battling Hamas for control of the city.

Occupation forces massacred some 30 Palestinians in the Deir el-Balah area of central Gaza last Sunday.

Air strikes destroyed many homes.

Families and members of the civil defence team were still trying to pull people from the rubble on Monday. The government of Gaza’s media office reported that the army “also bombed a mosque in the same area, which led to the killing of many people”.

The total number of Palestinians killed by Israel is now almost 27,400 people. But even that figure could be conservative.

Earlier this week Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of the World Health Organisation said, “Over 100,000 Gazans are either dead, injured, or missing and presumed dead.”

West Bank in Israel’s sights

Israel continues to kidnap, injure and murder Palestinians living in the West Bank.

Soldiers shot a Palestinian man during a raid of the town of Sarra, west of Nablus, last Sunday.

The next day they detained some 22 Palestinians in the cities of Ramallah, Hebron, Jerusalem, Tulkarem and the town of Tubas. Occupation forces also raided several houses and interrogated residents of Beit Furik, east of Nablus.

On the same day they stormed the village of Ramin, near Tulkarem. Troops used tear gas, stun grenades and live ammunition against the villagers.

They also destroyed a monument built in memory of those murdered by the Zionists.

Zionist settlers have also been on the rampage.

Escorted by police, they stormed the Al-Aqsa mosque on Monday. This was the second time in seven days that settlers engaged in attacks on the place of worship.

Since the 7 October attacks, the Israeli army has killed 381 Palestinians in the West Bank, injured 4,400 and detained some 6,511 people.

Don’t stop your Palestine demos

A Palestinian living near Jerusalem told Socialist Worker that, despite all the horror, he and other Palestinians have not given up hope that one day the occupation will end.

“We’ve been watching as a family the news coverage of the Palestinian demonstrations in London. That gives us hope,” he said.

“The Israelis have drawn up so many lines to separate Palestinian society. But whether you are a Palestinian in Haifa, in Gaza or in Lebanon or Syria, we are united.

“We don’t want to be separated. We don’t want two states.

“I think that there is place for everyone in Palestine. Of course, we can’t have this now, because the Zionists think they are better than us.

“It’s clearly an apartheid regime. But hopefully we are close to the end of this chapter.

“Many Palestinians want to start to think about how we can rebuild our country together, we don’t want to fight for our existence anymore.”

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‘Cameron to abstain in symbolic vote on Palestine status’

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