As Israel’s renewed assault on Gaza entered a second day, residents once again found themselves in dire circumstances, trying to find a refuge in one of the most intense aerial bombardments of the 21st century while desperately searching for food, water and other basic supplies.
On Saturday, Shahd Safi, 22, a teacher and translator, said in a text message that she was once again hearing Israeli bombardment around her home in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, after a weeklong truce that brought some relief. “The situation is very dangerous,” she said.
Ms. Safi and her family had left their home and moved to a different part of the city in early October after being warned to flee by the Israeli military. But they returned last week during the seven-day pause in fighting and decided to stay. No place in Gaza is safe, she said, so the family thought they might as well stay home.
Many people went out to try to find essential items during the truce, but the markets had little to buy, Ms. Safi said. Her family received a few canned items from UNRWA, the U.N. relief agency for Palestinians, including tuna, beans and cheese. It was far from enough, but everyone was struggling with the shortage of food and water as Israel continued to prevent the entry of all but a small amount of basic goods into Gaza, she said.
Ms. Safi said her family was still better off than many people. They at least had their own mattresses and blankets. “Many displaced people now barely can find such a luxury,” she said.
While a small amount of aid has come through the border with Egypt — and more did during the pause — the crossings from Israel have remained closed.
The U.N. said that no aid convoys had entered from Egypt on Friday, and humanitarian operations within Gaza had largely stopped amid the renewed bombardment. The Palestine Red Crescent Society said on Saturday that it had received 100 aid trucks from Egypt, containing food, water and medical supplies, as well as six ambulances donated by Saudi Arabia. A spokesman for the Gaza side of the Rafah border crossing said that three trucks carried fuel.
But the aid groups have repeatedly warned that the supplies are a drop in the bucket as the crisis in Gaza grows and threatens to become a public health disaster. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said this week that the amount of cooking gas that entered Gaza each day during the pause in fighting was a third of the amount that came in before the war.
In Khan Younis, the largest city in southern Gaza, lines over a mile long were reported as people waited for cooking gas, the agency said. Some people waited overnight, while others resorted to burning doors and window frames to cook, it said.
The city became increasingly crowded after the Israeli army ordered all residents of northern Gaza to move south as it began its offensive in mid-October. Many people went to U.N. schools that quickly transformed into makeshift shelters.
Like many Palestinians, Ms. Safi said she did not see the Israeli offensive in Gaza as part of a war between Israel and Hamas’s military wing, but as an attack on residents, who she said have long been oppressed by the Israeli government. “There is no symmetry in power,” she wrote.