As war draws closer, many remain in northern Gaza | ET REALITY


Others have chosen to head south despite the risks. The Israeli military, having isolated northern Gaza from the south, said it was offering four-hour windows for residents to head south safely in recent days.

About 5,000 people took advantage of that pause to make the journey Monday through areas controlled by Israeli troops, United Nations observers said. They trudged south, carrying their young children and their belongings.

On Tuesday, an Israeli military spokesman released images in X of a caravan of Gazans heading south on foot, waving white flags. The Israeli military has also claimed that Hamas has been physically hindering the movement of people south, which Hamas has denied.

Others left the north to return. Bushra Khalidi, Oxfam International’s policy officer for the Palestinian territories, said his in-laws were among the many people who had left their homes in Gaza City and then returned. In his case, the place where they had sought refuge, in central Gaza, received an evacuation order from the Israeli army.

“My father-in-law said, ‘I’d rather die with dignity in my own home than in a stranger’s home,’” she said.

Their neighborhood, Rimal, once an upscale part of the city, has been hit by airstrikes. They are alternating between nights at home and camping near Al Shifa hospital, along with tens of thousands of other displaced people, Khalidi said.

Many Palestinians hoped the hospital and adjacent area would be spared, but there have also been Israeli attacks there, including one on Friday that hospital head Dr. Mohammad Abu Salmiya said killed 13 people. The top floor of a hospital was hit Monday, killing one child and injuring 10 others, he said.

Israel has accused Hamas of operating a command center beneath Al Shifa, which is the territory’s largest hospital; Hamas denies this.

“We will not leave the hospital no matter what,” said Dr. Abu Salmiya.

Israel has laid siege to Gaza since the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attacks on Israel, allowing only limited deliveries of food, water and medical supplies through the Rafah crossing, far less than humanitarian groups say is needed.

Conditions are worse in the north, where almost no aid has been delivered. And Israel has not allowed fuel into Gaza, despite its importance to running water and hospital equipment, the territory’s only power plant, delivery trucks, ambulances and generators.

Ms. Khalidi stressed that without a ceasefire there was no way to safely deliver aid anywhere in the territory.

“How are aid workers supposed to deliver aid when there are bombings, roads are damaged and we have direct evidence of indiscriminate attacks?” she said.

Arijeta Lajka, Riley Melenand Iyad Abuheweila contributed with reports.

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