Israel’s military gave residents a narrow window to flee south, but their strikes continue in every corner of the enclave.
The head of Al Jazeera’s office in Gaza reached the southern region of the embattled Strip on Friday as hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced to evacuate the north following Israeli shelling and attacks.
“It’s torture. Leaving home is very hard,” Wael Al Dahdouh the bureau chief of Al Jazeera in Gaza City said as he arrived alongside the rest of the Al Jazeera crew, a video shared by journalist Yosef Al Saifi showed.
thousands of Palestinians, waving white flags, have embarked on a desperate journey south on foot, seeking refuge from relentless Israeli air strikes that have engulfed the entire enclave.
Israeli ground forces have reportedly surrounding Gaza City and are currently engaged in combat with Palestinian resistance fighters in the area. Palestinians say no area in the strip has been spared from the bombardment, which has so far led to the displacement of more than 70% of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents.
Analysts say that Israel’s advisories for residents to vacate their homes under the guise of safety are part of a broader strategy to forcibly depopulate Gaza.
Palestinians view this as a harrowing reminder of their 1948 Nakba, which resulted in permanent displacement for half of the Palestinian population.
The mass forced exodus primarily consists of children, the elderly, and the disabled, many of whom fled with barely any belongings. One video shared online showed a mother dragging two car seats as her toddlers sat.
Other footage shared online showed civilians raising white flags being shot at by Israeli forces as they attempted to evacuate a hospital.
Israel has escalated its offensive in Gaza, focusing on hospitals that have been serving as shelters or medical treatment centres for the numerous Palestinians displaced by the conflict.
During an intense attack on Thursday night, Israeli forces targeted the Indonesian Hospital and the Al Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s largest medical facility.
Ground reports indicated that the attack on Al Shifa involved a Reaper MQ.9 drone, deploying an R9X Rocket. This particular weapon, noted for not exploding, is equipped with blades capable of causing severe injuries, including dismemberment.
The offensive continued into the next day, with the Israeli forces focusing on the outpatient clinic of Al Shifa Hospital, where thousands had sought refuge. Graphic and distressing scenes emerged, displaying numerous lifeless bodies, many disfigured or dismembered, a testament to the brutal nature of the weaponry used.
By Friday morning, Israeli tanks had surrounded the Al Rantisi hospital complex, the sole pediatric cancer facility in Gaza. The health ministry reported that the hospital was encircled on all sides, trapping patients, medical staff, and displaced individuals inside.
In response to these invasions, Palestinian resistance fighters, particularly from Al Qassam Brigades, have been actively engaging the IDF for weeks. On Tuesday, a statement from Al Qassam’s spokesperson, Abu Obeida, confirmed the destruction of 136 Israeli military vehicles since the commencement of the ground operation in Gaza.
Also on Thursday, the Khalid bin Al-Walid Mosque in south Gaza was bombed by Israeli forces despite them claiming that the area is safe for Palestinians.
In response to international pressure, the White House confirmed that Israel agreed to implement daily four-hour humanitarian pauses in its offensive in northern Gaza from November 9.
However, the US House last week passed a Republican bill to provide Israel with $14bn in aid to bolster Israel’s military capabilities.
It includes $4 billion to boost Israel’s Iron Dome, David’s Sling missile defence systems as well as military equipment transferred from US stocks, Al Jazeera reported at the time.
The occupying state is already getting $3.8 billion per year in military assistance and has received aid from the US worth more than $124 billion since its establishment following the Second World War.
Meanwhile, world leaders are mobilising to reach an urgent humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza. Qatar’s Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani visited the UAE and Egypt on Thursday and Friday before heading to Saudi Arabia for a scheduled emergency meeting to discuss the developments in Gaza.