In Gaza, 'there is rubble and dust everywhere'

Hazem Balousha, a Palestinian journalist who works for international media, is among the people who fled Gaza City. From the Nuseirat Refugee Camp, he talks about the dire conditions in Gaza Strip

Representative image of people from Gaza fleeing to southern part of the Gaza Strip (photo: DW)
Representative image of people from Gaza fleeing to southern part of the Gaza Strip (photo: DW)


On Friday, Israel's military called for more than 1 million people to relocate south in the Gaza Strip ahead of an expected ground offensive. Among the people who fled is Hazem Balousha, a Gaza journalist who works for international media. He described the conditions he saw while he and his family made their way to the Nuseirat Refugee Camp in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.

What did you see when you had to leave your home in Gaza City?

It's messy, it's chaotic. Nobody understands what's going on. When I left my city, Gaza City, I saw long queues of cars, people with mattresses on the top of the cars, kids in the cars. Some people are walking because they have no transportation. I've seen people on donkey carts moving south. I saw destroyed high-rise buildings in different areas. Some areas I didn't recognize because of the devastation. There is rubble and dust everywhere.

Gaza, the whole Gaza Strip, is in a full blackout. No electricity, no water. The internet is very limited in some areas. There are queues for everything, at bakeries, grocery shops, and we are barely able to communicate because the phones are not working properly since the signal is very poor and all the people are trying to call each other.

Some people left already yesterday (Friday). I've seen a huge number of people moving from the city, from the northern part to the south. Some people are staying in schools, and some are on the street asking around if there is a place to stay. In front of me right now, I see people trying to fill gallons with water because there is no water in buildings or houses. They can't easily use the toilet without water. Myself, I haven't showered for like five days now. I smell really bad. Food is very limited.

What is it like where you are now?

Here in Nuseirat (a town in southern Gaza), there is more traffic. People are walking more than in other places I have seen, and there is a shortage of fuel. There is no gas in the gas stations. I stopped at many stations to fill my car. I had only limited gas and barely drove from Gaza City to this area. Everybody is saying: No fuel, no fuel, no gas here, no gasoline, check another station — but all without any success. Public transportation is not working. Sometimes I see people sleep or sit in cars. They bring whatever they can carry. I saw people turning on generators to charge their phones and batteries or power banks.

How would you describe the mood of the people around you?

People are angry, people are desperate. They don't know what's happening, what's going to happen. Many people ask me if there are negotiations or talks about a ceasefire or anything. The main thing that they are looking for is to stay alive and safe. But nobody knows if this spot is a safe place or not. So, some listen to the radio stations in order to get some news and hear what's happening. It's all insane.

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Published: 15 Oct 2023, 12:28 PM