[Photo: Palestinians sit in a makeshift tent on the grounds of Gaza City's al-Shifa hospital (MaanImages)]
GAZA CITY (Ma’an): Dozens of families who fled their homes during the Israeli offensive on Gaza took refuge in al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, and many Palestinians whose houses were destroyed have continued to shelter there as the situation has calmed.
For some, al-Shifa seemed like the safest place to stay while the bombs fell. Um Yazen and eight members of her family fled the Shujaiyya neighborhood of Gaza City amid Israeli onslaught and are still sleeping on the hospital’s grounds.
“We could not find a nearby house to flee to. Random shelling was everywhere and we did not expect to stay alive,” Um Yazen told Ma’an.
“There is no life in my house that was bombed — we do not have power or water,” she said.
Entire blocks were flattened in Shujaiyya as Israeli forces bombed and shelled the neighborhood on July 20, in an attack that has been dubbed the “Shujaiyya massacre.” At least 70 Palestinians were killed in the area in a single night.
“Life is dead in Shujaiyya. We do not have a house anymore and all the houses around us collapsed and were destroyed.”
Another woman from the Shujaiyya neighborhood, Um Rabah, is in a similar situation with 20 members of her family.
“We received calls and texts telling us to evacuate the house … but we could not find any safe place in Shujaiyya,” Um Rabah said.
Amid the calm, she and her family have set up a tent in front of their now destroyed house in the neighborhood, where they wait until sunset before heading back to al-Shifa hospital to sleep.
“Where are we going to go in winter? Where are we going to live?” Um Rabah said.
Some of the Palestinians on the grounds of al-Shifa said there was no room for them at the UN schools that housed many of the hundreds of thousands of displaced people during the assault.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs, some 365,000 Palestinians in Gaza are currently homeless and are living at UN schools, with host families, or in other shelters.
The homes of some 100,000 Palestinians have been destroyed or severely damaged by the Israeli assault, an Aug. 15 OCHA report said.
Israel’s five-week offensive on the Gaza Strip has left over 1,980 Palestinians dead and nearly 10,000 injured. The vast majority of the victims have been civilians.