Raw pain in Rafah

People gather in Tal al-Sultan after the massacre committed by Israel. 

Omar Ashtawy APA images

Rizq Dababesh had left Gaza City and moved southwards to Rafah following an Israeli assurance. Rafah was a safe area, according to that pledge.

The massacre of displaced people in Rafah’s tents on Sunday evening proved that the assurance was completely dishonest.

“Why did Israel turn Rafah into a hell zone?” Rizq asked.

Rizq was one of the many who had taken shelter in Tal al-Sultan, the part of Rafah where the massacre occurred.

After that horrific incident – in which at least 45 people were killed – Rizq and his family fear that Israel will commit further crimes of a similar or even worse nature.

“I have no idea what the [Israeli] army might do in the future,” he said. “There is no safe place.”

Rizq’s sister and her family narrowly escaped the massacre.

“God saved her from death,” Rizq said. “She is still in shock.”

Since Israel began a ground invasion in Rafah a few weeks earlier, “I have felt like I will lose my mind,” Rizq added.

“The solution is for this war to stop,” he added. “The situation is extremely dangerous in Rafah.”

Reem al-Sayed – also from Gaza City – had taken shelter in al-Mawasi Rafah, an area close to Tal al-Sultan.

On Sunday evening, she was trying to get some rest in her tent as she had spent many hours doing laundry. She was talking to her children and “then we heard a number of explosions – one after the other.”

“Everyone came out screaming” from their tents, she said. “They were looking towards the Tal al-Sultan area.”

“There was heavy smoke,” she added. “We heard that dozens of tents were on fire, with people inside them.”

“I thought that the army wanted to kill everyone in the area.”

Political leaders in the West expressed outrage at the Tal al-Sultan massacre.

So far, however, they have not taken any concrete action against Israel – which has continued inflicting terror on the people of Gaza.

Reem and her family cannot leave al-Mawasi Rafah “because we do not have the money” for other accommodation.

“We have been displaced four times,” she said. “Each time was very expensive.”

Ahmad Kassab managed to escape the Tel al-Sultan massacre.

He remains extremely worried about his family in Rafah.

Ahmad’s sister is pregnant and has decided to remain in her Rafah home, despite Israel’s invasion of the city. She was afraid that the stress of being uprooted would trigger a miscarriage.

“My sister calls us every day,” he said.

“She is always crying because Israel’s bombing is so intense. She tells us that every evening the whole place is filled with the sounds of children screaming.”

Ruwaida Amer is a journalist based in Gaza.