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My Treacherous Journey from Rafah to Deir Al-Balah

Panic has spread in Gaza as the evacuations of Rafah continue. Amid fears of bombardment and invasions, thousands have been uprooted again.  We are relieved to report that for the time being, all 65 Wefaq employees, our partner in Gaza, are safe. However, they have had to flee to Tel al-Sultan, Khan Younis and al-Mawasi, seeking safe refuge.

One of our partners' employees took the time to document her personal experience over the past week and asked us to share it with you, in hopes of shedding a light on the current situation. Her words are below. 

May 6 | 6:36 AM   
On that day, at 6:36 AM, the Israeli army issued a warning, stating that they were targeting terrorist organizations in the area and that our safety could not be guaranteed. Initially dismissing it as a scare tactic, I went about my usual routine.

May 6 | 8:00 AM   
However, upon arriving at my workplace, I was startled to find the coordinator questioning my presence, assuming the neighborhood was evacuated. It was then I realized the severity of the situation and rushed back home.

May 6 | 9:00 AM
As the bombing commenced, chaos ensued, and my family and I found ourselves stranded without transportation. Despite our efforts to secure a vehicle, we were unsuccessful, leaving us vulnerable amidst the escalating violence.  

We hastily packed our essentials into backpacks, leaving behind cherished items too heavy to carry, and evacuated north to Tel al-Sultan, where the new Wefaq headquarters was getting set up. As we fled, the bombings intensified, driving home the gravity of our situation.  

Upon arriving, we struggled to access clean water, food, and medical care. The dire conditions compounded our distress, and I found myself grappling with the uncertainty of our situation. Once at the association's headquarters, we loaded our belongings onto a waiting cargo vehicle and departed the Sultan area.    

May 6 | 4:00 PM
It was almost evening now, and despite our efforts, we hadn't been able to secure transportation or shelter. Even the Al-Mawasi area, where the army had instructed civilians to evacuate, offered little space. I contacted someone in hopes of arranging a tent for my family, only to learn that the cost was an amount we simply couldn't afford.  

Overwhelmed with fear, I couldn't hold back my tears. The situation grew increasingly perilous, with the sound of military bombings echoing nearby. Ambulances rushed past, carrying the injured to safety, intensifying my anxiety.  

We didn’t sleep that night.


May 7 | 8:30 AM 
We continued our journey towards Deir al-Balah by foot, but on the second day, we found ourselves somehow lost and back on the streets of Rafah. Exhausted and battling low blood pressure and intestinal issues, my family took me to the government clinic in al-Sultan. To our dismay, the clinic was bare, empty of essential medicines. 

My name is Haneen Hassan Khalil Fahjan, and I reside in Rafah, specifically at Al-Jeneina neighborhood. I live with my brother and my mother, who is 56 years old. I am employed at the Wefaq Association for Women and Children's Care, where I work on an emergency response project for women and children in Gaza, funded by the Women for Women International organization. I was serving as a psychologist working with displaced children in Rafah up until the events of May 6, 2024.

Forced to purchase medication at inflated prices from outside, I returned to the clinic where they provided me with a nutritional solution. Despite their best efforts, the clinic lacked the necessary equipment, substituting a pink cannula meant for blood transfusions instead of the required blue one for nutrient solutions.

A sandstorm added to our ordeal as we slept on the street, fatigued and hungry.

May 8 | 6:00 AM   
The following day, we embarked on yet another arduous attempt to secure transportation. Eventually, we managed to find a tuktuk willing to take us from the Sultan Saad Mosque area to al-Tayaran Street for 40 shekels. We agreed, despite the steep price.

From there, we walked along the street, hoping for another ride to our destination. My mother suffers from osteoarthritis in her knee joints, making it challenging for both my brother and me to assist her in walking.

May 8 | 12:00 PM   
After three grueling hours, we managed to secure transportation to the monastery for 45 shekels. The car was designed for five passengers, but the driver crammed ten individuals inside, with three squeezed into the trunk, three in the back seat, one next to the driver, and two sharing the passenger seat. Our journey was long, exhausting, and fraught with fear as we encountered thermal balloons and the deafening roar of planes breaking the sound barrier.  

May 8 | 2:00 PM   
After three days of searching, we finally found shelter near Al-Qastal Mosque in Deir al-Balah, though it lacks basic amenities like a bathroom, bed, or blankets. Clean water is scarce and expensive, and the food available is often harmful. We face daily challenges, lacking our own cooking utensils or pots to prepare meals. 

Our urgent needs also include bedding, blankets, bathroom facilities, clean drinking water, sanitary hygiene products, and a medical facility. The situation is particularly dire for women, including many pregnant women who struggle to access vital healthcare services. 

My Situation Today
My financial resources are dwindling, and I am unable to withdraw money from my bank account. The soaring prices of basic commodities such as tomatoes and water bottles have exacerbated our plight. Accessing internet services requires a lengthy walk to connect and even the simple act of charging a mobile phone requires us to pay a fee.

Here in the overcrowded camp, we are confronted with the looming threats of famine and diseases. And even displacement camps remain vulnerable to artillery shelling and missile attacks.

Despite our hardships, I am determined to continue my humanitarian work with children. Bringing a smile to a child's face and alleviating their fear and sadness brings me immense joy.  

Palestine Woman Behind Fence
Make an emergency donation to support women facing horrific consequences of this conflict. Your gift today helps provide: cash, food, clothing, diapers, hygiene kits, and trauma counseling.