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Displaced Gazans stuck between fear, unknown fate amid Gaza-Israel escalation

Palestinian boy stands up on the rubble of a house belonging to Gaza-based Khalifa's family that was destructed by Israeli warplanes on the second day of the Gaza-Israel conflict on Aug. 7, 2022. (Photo by Rizek Abdeljawad/Xinhua)

by Sanaa Kamal

GAZA, Aug. 7 (Xinhua) -- Ignoring her neighbors and journalists who arrived in her area, Nadia Shamalakh, a Gaza-based elderly woman, sits on a plastic chair in front of a hill of what used to be her house.

It is not more than a pile of stones covered in black dust after the Israeli army's bombardment on Saturday on the west of Gaza city.

"Where will our fate be after today? Shall we remain in the open air for months, or join the list of lost families who have not been able to rebuild their homes until today?" The 67-year-old mother of eight lamented to Xinhua.

Smoke billows following an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, Aug. 6, 2022. (Photo by Rizek Abdeljawad/Xinhua)

"I have never expected that my house would be targeted. Before the airstrike, I was having breakfast with my daughter who is disabled, and suddenly I heard the screaming of our neighbors," the woman recalled.

"The neighbors asked me to leave the place immediately, and I involuntarily grabbed my disabled daughter's hand and ran out of our house," she said.

After only a few minutes, Shamalakh heard a huge explosion and shrapnel scattered everywhere.

"Now, we have turned into newly displaced people, without our house or even a shelter," she said with a breaking voice.

Palestinians inspect the rubble of houses after an airstrike in Gaza City on Aug. 6, 2022. (Photo by Rizek Abdeljawad/Xinhua)

A few kilometers away from Shamlakh's house, Ahmed and Mahmoud Khalifa, two brothers in their 20s, gathered with dozens of residents waiting for their house to be targeted by F-35 warplanes, following an alarm made by the Israeli army ordering them to evacuate their house.

While the gathered people were raising their mobile phones to document the bombing, Ahmed Khalifah asked his brother "what will happen to us next?"

"I do not know why they are bombing our house and I have no idea where my family of 16 will live," the 23-year-old young man told Xinhua.

Mohammed Habboush, one of Khalifa's neighbors, told Xinhua that "it's a poor family. They are powerless and have nothing to do with any military factions."

Palestinians inspect the rubbles of residential buildings damaged by Israeli airstrike in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, Aug. 7, 2022. (Photo by Khaled Omar/Xinhua)

Both houses of Shamalakh and Khalifa were among the 650 housing units that were targeted in the Israeli airstrikes. Some of them were completely destroyed while the rest were partially damaged, according to the Hamas-run local authorities.

For the third day in a row, the coastal enclave, home to more than 2.3 million people, is witnessing a military escalation between the Israeli army and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement (PIJ).

So far, at least 31 Palestinians were killed, and more than 275 others were wounded in the Strip, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry.