Gazans flee Jabaliya as Israeli army launches new offensive

The northern town of Jabaliya had come under intense attacks from the Israeli army earlier in the war, killing many civilians and destroyed much of the suburbs. So when Israeli ground forces moved into other parts of the Gaza Strip and military attacks focused elsewhere, residents thought they had experienced their worst days.

But last week, the Israeli army again dropped leaflets on Jabaliya, where tens of thousands of people live, asking them to leave as they prepare to launch a new attack.

“When the Israelis dropped leaflets, people came in,” said Iman Abu Jalhum, 23, who graduated from medical school two months before the war began and is volunteering in hospitals treating the wounded. scared, especially with what they’ve been through before.” “We thought we were attacked so we were safe; The Israelis are already here.”

As soon as the leaflets fell, the bombs also fell, she said. Ms. Abu Jalhum, her 16-year-old sister, and her parents fled their home due to shelling. She only had time to throw a few items of clothing into her bag and put on her prayer shawl.

Her father, who has back problems, struggled to walk on the road. Finally, they found a donkey cart to carry him the rest of the way, a few miles to the south.

Israel said it had extended the agreement offensive in Jabaliya on May 11 as Hamas tries to regroup its infrastructure and operations in the area. Hamas accused Israel of “escalating aggression against civilians across Gaza” and vowed to continue fighting.

According to Wafa, the official news agency of the Palestinian Authority, at least 15 civilians were killed in Israeli airstrikes on Saturday in Jabaliya and 30 others were injured. Ambulance and rescue teams were unable to reach the area to rescue the injured and retrieve bodies.

The Israeli army said on Saturday it had “engaged and destroyed” Hamas militants in Jabaliya in several battles and identified several tunnels. Hamas said its fighters destroyed an Israeli tank south of Jabaliya.

According to the main United Nations agency assisting Palestinians, UNRWA, Ms. Abu Jalhum and her family are among at least 64,000 people displaced from Jabaliya and a neighboring town in the past week.

They are now sheltering a few miles south in a bombed-out building, where the smell of still-undiscovered corpses hangs in the air. Strikes still occurred in the neighborhood, she said, but there were fewer explosions and no clashes between Israeli forces and Hamas militants.

On Thursday, Ms. Abu Jalhum tried to return to Jabaliya to check on her home, walking 45 minutes along rubble-strewn streets. But as she approached her neighborhood, the explosions were too close to continue, she said.

“Yes, we have some courage but we are still scared,” she said. “You can see martyrs being killed on the streets that no one can reach. You fear there might be a sniper. Drones can target anyone walking on the street.”

Her family had to flee many times during the seven-month war, and they always went to stay with relatives in the same area. She said this time, the attack will be more extensive and intense.

“We just wanted to go home,” she said, adding, “We were so exhausted. You see it in our faces. Many times we wanted to cry but couldn’t.”


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