Israel-Hamas War: Deadly Strike Hits Southern Gaza Area Where Many Are Sheltering


When Samir Hassan and his surviving family members fled their home in the town of Mughraqa in the central Gaza Strip weeks ago, they did so under intense Israeli airstrikes, which killed a number of family members, including an uncle, and severely injured his brother.

They settled in a tent in the nearby Nuseirat area, where tens of thousands of Palestinians forced by Israel’s air and ground offensive had also fled and were finding what shelter they could in overcrowded schools, ramshackle tents or even out in the streets.

Now Mr. Hassan’s family has been warned they must move again.

The Israeli military this week ordered more than 150,000 people to leave parts of central Gaza. “The area you are in is considered an area of deadly fighting,” warned leaflets that were dropped over homes, shelters and encampments.

“God willing this will be the last time we are displaced,” said Mr. Hassan, 22, a taxi driver. The family lost everything the first time it fled, he said.

Israel’s war on Hamas has forced many of Gaza’s 2.3 million Palestinians to repeatedly flee for their lives as airstrikes bombard their towns and cities and Israeli forces advance their ground invasion.

The area now under threat, roughly nine square kilometers, has six shelters housing about 61,000 displaced people, mostly from northern Gaza, according to the United Nations. That is in addition to the 90,000 original residents of the area.

In its latest evacuation orders, Israel instructed people to move immediately to shelters that, the U.N. says, can barely hold the several hundred thousand people already there.

Some 1.9 million people in Gaza, or nearly 85 percent of the population, are estimated to be displaced, according to the U.N. relief agency for Palestinians.

Palestinians seeking help after an Israeli strike in central Gaza on Thursday.Credit…Mohammed Asad/Associated Press

“Forced to move again,” the agency said on Thursday. “Evacuation order by Israeli authorities of middle Gaza causes ongoing forced displacement. Over 150,000 people — young children, women carrying babies, people with disabilities & the elderly — have nowhere to go.”

The only remaining hope for Gazans, the agency said, is a cease-fire.

Israel’s evacuation orders — which the United Nations has said risk forced displacement, which is a war crime — have at times been contradictory and confusing. And even when Gazans make the wrenching decision to uproot their families yet again, they are forced to make impossible choices, with no safe places to go.

The Israeli bombardment and the siege of Gaza have decimated large parts of the Palestinian enclave and its infrastructure, leaving millions hungry and exposed to the elements and creating a public health disaster in the making.

Israel has said it is addressing the humanitarian concerns, including those voiced by the United States. A military spokesman, Lt. Col. Avichay Adraee, said on social media that in an effort to help Gazans understand the evacuation directives, they had published maps divided into grids “in order to preserve your security and safety.”

But Israel has routinely used 2,000-pound bombs — one of the biggest and most destructive supplied by the United States — in densely populated areas in southern Gaza where civilians were told to move for safety, according to an analysis of the visual evidence by The New York Times.

At the Aqsa Hospital in Deir al-Balah, a mother of five said that she and 20 members of her extended family had arrived there the previous day. It is the fourth time the family, including a 10-month-old baby, have been forced to flee since the war began.

“They threatened the entire block around us, even the new camp, even the market street — all of it they threatened,” she said. “They dropped leaflets ordering us to leave within three days. So we had to come here.”

Living in a thin tent in the winter cold has made all her children sick, she said. Now they are living on the cold pavement outside the hospital.

“We don’t have mattresses,” she said. “We only have blankets. Either we cover ourselves with them, or we sleep on them.”





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