Palestinians flee as Israeli forces return to Gaza’s north

Published June 28, 2024
A woman carries a child as she evacuates with others from the Tuffah neighbourhood, in the east of Gaza City.—AFP
A woman carries a child as she evacuates with others from the Tuffah neighbourhood, in the east of Gaza City.—AFP

GAZA STRIP: Palestinians fled eastern Gaza City on Thursday under heavy bombardment as the Israeli military issued an evacuation order for the area it had previously declared clear of Hamas fighters.

The flare-up in the northern Gaza Strip’s Shujaiya district, which witnesses and medics said caused numerous casualties, comes as fears grow of a wider regional conflagration involving Israel and Hezbollah, a Hamas ally.

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, on a visit to Washington to discuss the Gaza conflict and ways to avoid broader conflict in the Middle East, warned Hezbollah that fighting on a massive scale would send Lebanon “back to the stone age”.

With cross-border tensions between Israel and Hezbollah rising, Gallant said, “We do not want war, but we are preparing for every scenario.” In Gaza, fighting has ground on despite comments by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the “intense phase” of the war — now nearing its 10th month — was winding down.

Tel Aviv warns it could send Lebanon ‘back to Stone Age’ as fears grow of a regional conflagration

The civil defence agency in the Hamas-run territory and medics said Israeli strikes overnight and early on Thursday killed at least five people in Gaza City and another in Beit Lahia, also in the north.

The Israeli military said it had “attacked terrorists who were in a school complex in Khan Yunis” in the south.

In Gaza City, a witness in Shujaiya who declined to be named said the situation was “very difficult and frightening” as Israeli military vehicles approached the area amid air strikes and shelling.

“Residents are running through the streets in terror […] a number of wounded and martyrs lie in the streets.”

The Israeli military’s Arabic-language spokesman, Avichay Adraee, told residents and displaced Gazans in the Shujaiya area to leave “for your safety”, in a message posted on social media.

They were asked to head south, to a declared “humanitarian zone” about 25 kilometres away. A photographer saw many leaving on foot, carrying their belongings as they walked through rubble-strewn streets.

‘Significant displacement’

Muhammad Ghurab, a doctor at Gaza City’s Al-Ahli hospital, said the facility had so far received seven “martyrs including four children” and more than 40 others who were wounded “as the Israeli forces advanced to the east of Shujaiya neighbourhood”.

Hamas’ press office reported “a significant displacement of residents” around Shujaiya market. Shujaiya resident Omar Sukar said the violence began as Gazans were collecting drinking water, which has been in limited supply due to an Israeli siege. “People were filling water in the Shabura area in Shujaiya,” he said.

Published in Dawn, June 28th, 2024

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