After days of heavy Israeli airstrikes and then increased artillery fire, some frightened residents of northern Gaza do not wait to see if there will be a repeat of 2014, when the ground assault ensued.
Under heavy shelling on Thursday night, Revaa Maruf grabbed her children and fled the city of Beit Lahiya, near Gaza’s northern border with Israel.
She ended up at a UN-run school in the Jabaliya refugee camp, joining dozens of others trapped inside as people headed further south on the roads outside in donkey cars or on foot.
“We were at home with the children when all of a sudden artillery started bombing in all directions,” Maruf said in a class at a school in Jabaliya.
“The house next to ours was bombed, fragments hit our house. We do not yet know if the house we left was bombed, ”she added, describing her race for shelter.
The UN Refugee Agency said on Thursday hundreds of people fled to UN schools in Gaza in search of asylum, especially in the north, and is taking steps to make sure these places are organized to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Those heading south – some lugging their belongings in handcarts – walked past buildings destroyed by the conflict in Gaza, a coastal enclave with a population of 2 million and largely cut off from the outside world by the Israeli blockade.
Israel says it is trying to stop the infiltration of weapons.
He launched two ground attacks on Gaza in just over a decade, in 2009 and 2014, as part of a long standoff with Hamas, the Islamist group that has ruled Gaza since 2007 and whose militants have fired rockets at Israel. read more
The Israeli military said Friday it has targeted Hamas and other militant targets in Gaza and will continue to use force “if necessary” to try to stop the constant rocket attacks on Israeli cities that are driving communities in central and southern Israel fled in search of shelter. …
Israel, the United States and European countries consider Hamas to be a terrorist group. Hamas says it has the right to protest against the occupation of Palestinian land and is committed to creating an independent state.
Neither side showed any signs of easing the conflict that erupted on Monday, and Israeli forces concentrated on the border. For some Gazans, especially in the north, this was a signal to move.
In Israel, sirens ring out in cities, warning of approaching Palestinian missiles, many of which have been intercepted by the Israeli missile defense system.
In cities and refugee camps in Gaza, social media lights up, and residents of Beit Lahia take to the streets and chant Allahu Akbar, or God the Greatest, before gathering with neighbors to leave.
“We called each other by name and shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’, we gathered a large group of people and left,” said 28-year-old Nawal Abu Halima, a mother of four, describing her flight from Beit Lahiya late Thursday night as an explosion illuminated night sky.
The panic was compounded by the fact that a few minutes later on Friday morning, the Israeli army issued a message stating that “ground forces are currently attacking in the Gaza Strip.” Later, the statement was clarified, meaning that the troops did not enter the enclave, but fired at it.
Later Friday, a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces admitted that the message could be misleading, stating that “such things can sometimes happen in the midst of a complex operation.”
Regardless of whether there is a ground attack, the intensifying skirmishes and statements by the Israeli army have prompted many Gazans to share their concerns on Facebook and other social media.
“The situation here is terrifying, terrifying,” wrote Mona Helles, whose Facebook page says she lived in the Shejaya suburb east of Gaza City.
Another Gazan, Mohamed Elbardawil, wrote: “What is happening is unprecedented madness.”
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