Central Gaza Strip – Thousands of displaced Palestinians have been forced to leave Gaza City and northern Gaza, making their way to the central region of the coastal territory under attack by Israel.
But many Palestinians described the so-called “safe corridors” that Israel announced to allow for their evacuation as replete with horror.
Ahmad al-Ruweishi had been staying at Al Fakhoura school in the Jabalia refugee camp when the Israeli army bombed it on Saturday, killing at least 100 civilians.
He said he helped move the remains of at least 20 people killed, as their bodies were torn into pieces.
“I had to leave to protect my family,” he said. “It was a tough journey and the soldiers shot at me just because I was pushing my mother in her wheelchair.”
Al-Ruweishi said the Israeli soldiers made the men strip naked and arrested some of them.
“You could not look behind you, and if you dropped anything, they would shoot if you bent down to pick it up,” he said.
The United Nations says at least 1.6 million Palestinians have been internally displaced, with a majority of them staying at UN-run schools. Others are staying with host families or in hospitals.
For weeks, the Israeli military has called on the Palestinians in northern Gaza to flee to the south, but has continued to target and bomb civilians even there.
“We saw death in every colour on Salah al-Din Street,” said Mahmoud al-Madhoun, referring to the main arterial road that connects the north with the south.
“We saw burned-out cars and dead bodies on the road, with dogs eating away at their flesh,” he said. “We couldn’t even dignify them by covering them up with blankets.”
Al-Madhoun was staying at al-Shifa Hospital before he managed to leave on Saturday. He narrated the terror that patients and displaced people at the hospital felt when Israeli soldiers raided the complex and targeted it with bombs.
“When we were able to finally leave the hospital, there were Israeli snipers stationed at the roads,” he said.
“They had erected dirt barriers and used surveillance technology that took our eye print. It was frightening. We never thought we would see the soldiers in the heart of our city where we lived and worked.”
As there were no cars or even ambulances for the sick and injured, al-Madhoun said, they covered the long journey on foot. He said the Israeli soldiers ordered them to hold their IDs in hand.
He also saw men, women and children being taken away by the soldiers, their fate unknown.
“These are not ‘safe corridors’, these are ‘deception corridors,’” he said. “They humiliate us, take us away, or shoot at us.”