Gaza Strip in maps: How life has changed in three months

Boy sits amid rubble of destroyed homes in Gaza

Almost two million people in Gaza – more than 85% of the population – are reported to have fled their homes in the three months since Israel began its military operation in response to Hamas’s deadly attacks of 7 October.

The Strip has been under the control of Hamas since 2007 and Israel says it is trying to destroy the military and governing capabilities of the Islamist group, which is committed to the destruction of Israel.

Gaza – a densely populated enclave 41km (25 miles) long and 10km wide, bounded by the Mediterranean Sea on one side and fenced off from Israel and Egypt at its borders – has “simply become uninhabitable”, according to a senior United Nations official.

Map showing Gaza urban areas and refugee camps with the high-risk and no-go areas of the Israeli declared buffer zone around its border. Gaza has three border crossing points - Erez into Israel in the north and Rafah and Kerem Shalom into Egypt in the south - although they are not always open

Israel warned civilians to evacuate the area of Gaza north of the Wadi Gaza riverbed, ahead of its invasion.

The evacuation area included Gaza City – which was the most densely populated area of the Gaza Strip. The Erez border crossing into Israel in the north is closed, so those living in the evacuation zone had no choice but to head towards the southern districts.

Families leave north Gaza after warnings from Israeli military

Southern Gaza evacuation areas

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are now focusing its operations on southern Gaza and have told Palestinians that even Khan Younis – the largest urban area in the south – is not safe and they should move south, or further west to a so-called “safe area” at al-Mawasi, a thin strip of mainly agricultural land along the Mediterranean coast, close to the Egyptian border.

Fighting in Khan Younis has pushed tens of thousands of people to flee to the southern district of Rafah, the UN said.

Map showing area of south eastern Gaza told to evacuate and Israeli ground operations in and around Khan Younis

According to the UN, just over 75% of Gaza’s population – some 1.7 million people – were already registered refugees before Israel warned Palestinians to leave northern Gaza.

Palestinian refugees are defined by the UN as people whose “place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948, and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 War”. The children of Palestinian refugees are also able to apply for refugee status.

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