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Where New Tent Cities Are Rising in Central Gaza

Where New Tent Cities Are Rising in Central Gaza


A growing area of central Gaza is filling up with tents, satellite imagery shows, as Palestinians who fled south to Rafah to escape danger have picked up their possessions and moved yet again in search of safety.

Source: Satellite imagery from Planet Labs. April imagery was captured between April 3 and April 20. May imagery was captured between May 18 and May 30.

Most Gazans in Rafah began leaving in early May, after the Israeli military, preparing for its ground operation in the south, issued evacuation orders for the eastern part of the city.

But another exodus began toward the end of the month, after an Israeli strike that local authorities said killed dozens of people at a displaced camp. Israel said the strike targeted a Hamas compound. An attack at the nearby area of Al-Mawasi two days later killed 21 more people sheltering there, Gazan officials say. Israel has insisted that it has not attacked the areas it has designated as “humanitarian zones,” where evacuating Gazans have been instructed to go.

In all, more than one million Gazans โ€” nearly half the territoryโ€™s total population โ€” have now fled Rafah, according to the United Nations. Many have been displaced repeatedly.

When the Israeli military issued its evacuation orders for Rafah in early May, it instructed Palestinians to go to a โ€œhumanitarian zoneโ€ that it designated along the Gazan coast. The zone extends from south of Khan Younis to Deir al Balah in the north.

Some people sheltering in western Rafah also began packing up, even though the area was not named in the evacuation order. In satellite imagery captured late last month, few tents could be seen there.

Before evacuation orders were issued for eastern Rafah

After evacuation orders, but before May 26 strike in western Rafah

After strike in western Rafah

Source: Satellite imagery from Planet Labs

As Rafah emptied, Palestinians fled to coastal areas in the governorates of Khan Younis and Deir al Balah, an area that roughly aligns with the humanitarian zone declared by the Israeli military.

The pace of resettlement sped up in the aftermath of the deadly strike that killed dozens in the camp for displaced people.

Before evacuation orders were issued for eastern Rafah

After evacuation orders, but before May 26 strike in western Rafah

After strike in western Rafah

Source: Satellite imagery from Planet Labs

Even before Israel began its ground operation in Rafah, many Palestinians had sought shelter in central Gaza, near Deir al Balah. But some of the coastline remained largely empty.

Now, tents and temporary shelters fill nearly 12 continuous miles of coastline, stretching from near Wadi Gaza in the north toward the border with Egypt in the south. With space at a premium, some people have been forced to pitch their tents just meters away from the waves.

Source: Satellite imagery from Planet Labs



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