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Humanitarian crisis in Gaza grows: Israeli airstrikes displaced almost 200,000 people

Jason Shawa is an Arabic-English translator living in Gaza City. He took a photo out his window on Oct. 11. (Courtesy of Jason Shawa)
Jason Shawa is an Arabic-English translator living in Gaza City. He took a photo out his window on Oct. 11. (Courtesy of Jason Shawa)

The humanitarian crisis in Gaza is growing. According to the United Nations, around 200,000 Palestinians have fled their homes.

Hospitals there are overwhelmed with people injured or killed by Israeli airstrikes.

There is no water, food or power going in. Plus, with exits blocked off, there’s no way to leave Gaza.

In the meantime, the Israeli strikes continue in retaliation for the brutal Hamas attack inside Israel over the weekend.

Jason Shawa is an Arabic-English translator in Gaza City. He was born in Seattle, but spent most of his life in Gaza. He says he and his family are in survival mode at the moment, and it’s not the first time.

“The past few days in Israel is absolutely nothing in comparison to what we have been experiencing,” he says. “The fear, the terror they’re experiencing now, we have been experiencing for the past 75 years, almost day-in and day-out.”

He says that highly restrictive blockades of resources are only making the situation worse.

“Everything, and anything, anybody leaving, coming into the strip — people, goods, food, medicines — is strictly controlled by the Israeli military occupation,” he says.

Shawa says since Saturday, Israeli air raids have been relentless.

“Most of these people who were forced to flee, who were lucky enough actually to flee their homes, have nowhere to go,” he says.

Shawa says people in Gaza tend to pull together in such circumstances, so he has opened his doors to those who lost everything.

“My wife and I took in 16 people, friends of ours and their relatives and acquaintances, four couples in total, amongst whom are three children,” he says.

Shawa says he is glad he can help, but worries about food and water supplies. But he says one of the hardest things he and his wife have to deal with at the moment is offering reassurance to their two young daughters, Zayneb, 9, and Melak, 6. He says his younger daughter doesn’t really understand what is going on. He tries to tell her they are safe.

“Her main question is, are they going to hit us? Are they going to target us?,” Shawa says. “Are they going to kill us?”

Adeline Sire produced and edited this interview for broadcast with Peter O’Dowd. Sire also adapted it for the web.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.