Fri 17-May-2024

Al-Mawasi, from the food basket of Gaza to the city of tents

Sunday 21-April-2024


Tents are seen everywhere in Al-Mawasi, Khan Yunis, which the Israeli occupation army transformed from a food basket for the besieged people of Gaza Strip into a center for displacement.

Al-Mawasi is located on the coastal strip of the Mediterranean Sea, south of the Gaza Strip, about 28 kilometers away from the city of Gaza. Al-Mawasi is one kilometre wide and 12 kilometers long and extends from Deir al-Balah in central Gaza Strip to Rafah in the south, passing through Khan Yunis.

The Gaza Strip’s food basket

Al-Mawasi is a coastal area known for its agricultural lands and fresh groundwater, but due to the Israeli invasion, it has turned into barren lands. It has become a haven for the displaced fleeing from the hellish Israeli aggression that has been raging against the Strip for over half a year.

The total area of Al-Mawasi is estimated to be around 12,000 dunums (a dunum equals one thousand square meters), representing about 3% of the Gaza Strip’s total area. The area consists of sandy dunes locally known as Al-Sawafi, which are white desert sands interspersed with fertile agricultural depressions rich in groundwater.

Al-Mawasi is divided into two geographically connected zones, one belonging to the Khan Yunis Governorate, located in the southwest of the governorate, while the other belongs to the Rafah Governorate, located in the northwest.

Most of Al-Mawasi consists of agricultural lands or barren sandy dunes. The residential areas are limited, with no more than 100 housing units. They can barely accommodate the original residents. Moreover, the area lacks infrastructure, paved roads, sewage systems, electricity lines, and communication and internet networks.

The beginning of the tragedy

With the escalation of the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip following the Flood of Al-Aqsa battle that started on October 7, 2023, Israeli military strikes targeted all areas of the Strip, resulting in the death and injury of thousands of Palestinian civilians.

Since October 18, 2023, the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) have been issuing military orders demanding that the residents of the Gaza Strip to head south towards the open areas west of Khan Yunis, specifically to the area of Al-Mawasi, claiming that international aid will be sent there when needed.

At the beginning of the war on Gaza, the IOF attempted to market Al-Mawasi as a safe zone and pushed the population away from the battle zones in the cities of the Gaza Strip. However, the United Nations rejected this and stated that Al-Mawasi lacks basic conditions and a mechanism to supervise the implementation of a safe zone. The UN only managed to build tents for the displaced.

The facts have proven the lies of the IOF, as it committed horrific massacres in the areas of Al-Mawasi, raided some areas, and arrested many citizens.

Life in the tents

In the areas of Al-Mawasi, people sleep in primitive tents that do not protect them from the summer heat or the winter cold. They lie on the sand, trying to cover themselves and their families with worn-out fabrics, in a terrifying way of human existence.

Despite the horrifying and harsh conditions of displacement, the people in Al-Mawasi possess an unyielding determination and love for life, despite the horrendous Israeli war.

The tents in Al-Mawasi are used as shops for buying and selling goods, beauty salons, and entertainment centers. The tent has become everything there.

The displaced people emphasize that the tent is a transitional stage in a battle that must be won, and they affirm that life in the tent is temporary, while the return (to their homes) is inevitable.

The suffering of the displaced in Al-Mawasi is indescribable. There is no safe drinking water, no communication and sewage networks, and no paved roads. They are like people living in the heart of a barren desert with no life. However, they have created a life, patiently enduring and counting on Allah that their torment will end, and they will soon return to their homes, victorious.

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