Rains and the onset of winter are adding to the woes of Palestinians in besieged Gaza strip, their relatives in the UAE have said. “Where do our loved ones go?” they ask, as aid agencies warn of further deaths, displacement and destruction as Israel intensifies its war against Hamas.

The UN Human Rights Chief Volker Türk said recently that there is no safe place in Gaza. “As a result of Israel’s conduct of hostilities and its orders for people to leave the north and parts of the south, hundreds of thousands are being confined into ever smaller areas in southern Gaza without proper sanitation, access to sufficient food, water and health supplies, even as bombs rain down around them,” Türk said in a statement earlier this week.

Palestinian expats in the UAE said they are not sure where their families will go as Israel expanded its offensive.

“Refugee camps have also been hit. The winter has set in and it’s raining more frequently. My loved ones don’t have many warm clothes and the temperatures are dipping,” said A. Ahmed, a UAE resident.

The United Nations said the intensified hostilities after a seven-day humanitarian pause have resulted in deaths and displacement. “At least an additional 60,000 people were forced to move to already overcrowded UNRWA shelters, with more asking to be sheltered. Many have already been displaced more than once fleeing the war in other parts of Gaza,” said the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine.

Palestinians are in desperate need of blankets, food, stoves and fuel as they take refuge in makeshift tents — many of which are not even waterproof. And aid agencies are warning that winter could further complicate the situation if the fighting does not stop. Blockade of aid is preventing shelter and essentials from reaching the Palestinians who desperately need them to stay warm and survive.

Mohammed Herzallah, a UAE resident of 17 years, is concerned about his mother, three brothers and sister as the winter has set in. “They’re struggling in Gaza with no electricity and gas to warm themselves."

“It is really frustrating that we are entering the winter season and the area is colder than the UAE. They don’t have blankets to protect themselves against the chilly weather,” he said.

Making matters worse, Herzallah fears that if Gazans get sick during the winter, medicines are in short supply.

“If they get ill, they don’t have the means for treatment. Roads are destroyed, and ambulances and paramedics cannot reach them,” he said.

Since the war between Hamas and Israel began in early October, nearly 16,300 people have died in Gaza, including thousands of children and women.

The World Health Organisation has warned that more people could die from diseases in Gaza than bombings.

Since the war began, the UAE has sent tonnes of aid under its ‘Tarahum for Gaza’ campaign. Life-saving supplies include blankets, ready-to-eat food, and medicines, among other products.

Ibrahim Abu-Ras, a Palestinian living in the UAE, is also concerned about his family stranded in Gaza.

“With the winter season taking over, it’s crucial that more aid trucks go into Gaza to provide blankets, clothes and, most importantly, fuel, to make sure the people of Gaza don’t freeze or starve,” said Abu-Ras, who has around 15 extended family members in Gaza.

He said life is going to be more challenging in the coming winter months because they have to now survive both the war and the cold.

“I am concerned about Gaza and Palestine as a whole. The people there need the basic necessities of survival such as warm shelters and food,” he said.

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