UNRWA: 200 days into Israel-Hamas conflict, over 1m Gazans have lost homes

Survivors inspect the rubble of buildings destroyed in Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City on Nov 4, 2023. [Xinhua]

More than a million residents in the Gaza Strip have lost their homes and 75 per cent of the population in the Palestinian coastal enclave have been displaced since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas conflict 200 days ago, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) said on Tuesday.

"Destruction is everywhere in Gaza. Damage to critical infrastructure is immense," UNRWA wrote in a post on social media platform X.

In a recorded speech marking the 200th day of the conflict, Abu Ubaida, spokesperson for the Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, accused Israel of impeding mediation efforts for a ceasefire.

"Israel is trying to escape from all of its promises in negotiations and wants to buy more time," he said, adding that there will be no compromise on the basic rights of the Palestinian people. These include the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip, the lifting of the blockade, and the return of displaced Palestinians to their homes.

Israeli media reported on Monday that preparations were underway to expand the humanitarian zone in the Gaza Strip ahead of a possible Israeli attack on the southernmost Gazan city of Rafah.

Hebrew Public Radio said that the new humanitarian zone will extend from the southern town of Al-Mawasi along the coastal strip to the outskirts of Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip and will be able to accommodate about one million displaced people.

According to the report, five field hospitals have been established in the area, supplementing the existing hospitals in operation.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed Sunday to intensify military and political pressure on Hamas in the coming days.

Netanyahu repeatedly threatened to launch an attack on Rafah, as it is the last "stronghold" of Hamas.

Rafah is the last refuge for more than 1.4 million Palestinians who were displaced from the northern and central parts of the Gaza Strip amid the ongoing war between Hamas and Israel.

Israel launched a large-scale offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip to retaliate against a Hamas rampage through the southern Israeli border on Oct. 7, 2023, during which about 1,200 people were killed and more than 200 were taken hostage.

As of Tuesday, a total of 34,183 Palestinians have been killed and 77,143 others injured in the Gaza Strip due to Israeli attacks, according to figures published by the Hamas-run Health Ministry.