The Israeli military issued an evacuation order for over 1 million Palestinians in northern Gaza, indicating the potential for a ground invasion against Hamas. The United Nations expressed deep concern about the evacuation.
Many Palestinians fear a repeat of their traumatic history, known as the Nakba, which occurred during the 1948 war when approximately 700,000 Palestinians were displaced from what is now Israel. They expected to return after the war but were never allowed to. Instead, they settled in refugee camps in various locations. Gaza is one of the most densely populated places on earth. The majority of the population are Palestinian refugees, many of whom are from areas that were recently attacked by Hamas.
The Palestinians still demand the right to return, but Israel rejects this. The recent conflict in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, and Israel has called for their evacuation to prevent civilian casualties and hinder Hamas’s use of human shields. However, Palestinians are suspicious of these evacuation orders, fearing they may never return.
Some extremist voices in Israel have called for mass expulsion of Palestinians. Hamas has advised people to stay put, dismissing the Israeli orders as a ruse. President Mahmoud Abbas rejected the evacuation orders, labeling them a “new Nakba.” Despite being raised on the idea of steadfastness on their land, many Palestinians in Gaza are now too frightened, exhausted, and desperate to make a stand.
With Israeli airstrikes and a deteriorating humanitarian situation, the south might be the best hope for survival, even if they can’t return. Palestinians are reminded of their history in 1948, which taught them that leaving might mean never coming back. The Gaza Strip is facing dire circumstances, and many lives are at stake.