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‘Nowhere safe to go’: Confusion and fear after Israel’s warning to evacuate | Israeli-Palestinian conflict News

Nature

Mohammed Elewa, 21, barely slept last week in the Gaza Strip.

The sound of Israeli bombs and Palestinian ambulance sirens is a constant background noise as Israel strikes the Gaza Strip in revenge for a surprise Hamas attack on Israel on October 7.

On Friday morning, he woke up to learn that the Israeli army had issued evacuation orders for more than a million people in the northern Gaza Strip, almost half of a total of 2, 3 million inhabitants.

This directive comes ahead of a feared land invasion, but Elewa did not see fit to leave.

“There is no safe place to go. Where am I supposed to go? asks Elewa on the phone from her home.

He is one of many residents of Gaza City who say they must stay because they cannot head south.

Palestinians are fleeing their homes towards the southern Gaza Strip (Ahmed Zakot/Reuters)

“There was no room”

In a press release, Hamas leaders called the Israeli order “psychological warfare.”

“The current developments in Gaza represent an extraordinarily audacious and brutal attempt to forcibly expel the Palestinian people from their lands,” said Izzat al-Risheq, a member of the Hamas politburo.

Elewa ended up staying in Shujayea with a few cousins ​​and sisters, while other members of her family went to the schools used as shelters or to relatives in the south.

More than 270,000 displaced people have found shelter in 88 schools run by UNRWA, the United Nations agency that helps Palestinian refugees, in the northern Gaza Strip.

But the overcrowding was such that in some cases “there were already 50 people in a room,” said the paracyclist, whose leg was amputated when he was injured during the Gaza border protests there is five years old.

“I wanted to go with them (my family), but there was no room,” Elewa said.

“(Now) they’re asking everyone to leave, but there’s literally nowhere to go. They just tell us to go and stay in the street,” he adds, a mix of panic and anger in his voice.

A loud explosion sounds on the other end of the line and the telephone connection is cut.

At least 1,300 people were killed in the attack on Israel, while at least 1,799 Palestinians, including 583 children, were killed in the Israeli bombardment of Gaza.

UNRWA
More than 270,000 displaced people have found shelter in 88 schools managed by UNRWA (Ashraf Amra/Anadolu Agency)

Death penalty for vulnerable people

The United Nations has called on Israel to reverse the evacuation order, saying a movement of people on this scale is “impossible” without dire humanitarian consequences.

On Friday, thousands of people were seen heading south in vehicles and on foot, hugging their children and meager possessions.

But many cannot leave – like the many patients in Gaza’s overloaded hospitals.

“(It is impossible) to evacuate Al-Shifa Hospital,” Dr. Yusuf Abu al-Rish, Gaza’s deputy health minister, said in a message to journalists, referring to the largest hospital of the Gaza Strip, which far exceeds its 500 beds. ability.

“All other hospitals are full of injured patients,” Abu al-Rish added.

“Most cases are not stable enough to be transported,” he said. “Even if there is a decision (to evacuate), it is not enforceable at all.”

Tarik Jasarevic, a spokesman for the World Health Organization in Geneva, said it would be impossible to evacuate vulnerable hospital patients and such a move would be a death sentence for many.

Aboard a donkey cart, a family and hundreds of other Palestinians carrying their belongings flee following Israeli army warning to leave their homes and move south ahead of an expected ground offensive , in Gaza City.
Aboard a donkey cart, a family and hundreds of other Palestinians carrying their belongings fled following the Israeli army’s warning to leave their homes and move south (Mahmud Hams/ AFP)

“No one can speak”

“I saw a lot of people earlier today fleeing in trucks, donkeys, cars,” Mohammed Abu Safia, a 33-year-old journalist, said from Gaza City. “I saw up to 10 people in a car.”

Abu Safia, who has already lost many members of his extended family in the past week, had arrived in Gaza City from Beit Lahiya, in the far north of Gaza, after the Israeli order.

He was sheltering in a church-run school with his young family of four.

“If you look at people you can see the fear in their eyes, no one can speak,” said Abou Safia. “If I try to question anyone, they start arguing with me. No one can think clearly.

“World leaders should speak out”

“I watched these videos (of people fleeing) today and I cried,” Wafaa al-Qudra, 36, told Al Jazeera.

“(Israel) knows we are in a state of war and there is no means of transportation,” al-Qudra added, “Are they just trying to humiliate people?”

“This order does not alter Israel’s obligations in military operations to never target civilians and to take all possible measures to minimize harm to them,” said Clive Baldwin, senior legal adviser at Human Rights Watch. .

“Roads are in ruins, fuel is scarce and the main hospital is in the evacuation zone,” he added. “World leaders should speak out now before it is too late. »

“The south is being bombed,” al-Qudra said, explaining why she decided not to attempt to evacuate. “My family lives there and they say the bombings haven’t stopped for a minute. »

Meanwhile, Elewa, the paracyclist, reconnects with the news that he survived the previous bombings and is preparing for another frightening night under Israeli bombardment.

“There’s absolutely no sleep,” he said. “Everyone is nervous, waiting. »

Nature
aljazeera

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