Palestinians flee as Israeli forces renew Gaza City assault

Several killed as Israel storms Shujayea in eastern Gaza City, according to the Gaza civil defence and a doctor.

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Palestinians travel in a horse-drawn cart as they flee their homes following an Israeli military operation in Shujayea, in Gaza City [Dawoud Abu Alkas/Reuters]

Palestinians have fled Gaza City’s Shujayea neighbourhood after Israeli forces carried out air raids and sent ground vehicles into the ravaged area, according to Gaza’s civil defence.

Muhammad Ghurab, a doctor at Gaza City’s al-Ahli Hospital, said on Thursday the facility had received seven “martyrs including four children” and more than 40 others who were wounded “as the Israeli forces advanced to the east of Shujayea neighbourhood”.

Civil defence teams pulled out several bodies from the rubble following the attacks, the civil defence said in a statement, adding that search and rescue operations were continuing.

Hamas said in a statement the assault has led to “a number of martyrs and has forced thousands of Palestinians to flee under the pressure of ongoing shelling of the defenceless civilians”.

Hamas said that the repeated attacks on “cities, camps and districts, and the deliberate killing of civilians and the destruction of infrastructure” was part of a “fascist policy” to increase the suffering of Palestinians.

The group said it would continue to “inflict heavy losses” on Israel’s army until the “aggression is stopped and expelled from our land”.

Al Jazeera’s Hani Mahmoud, reporting from Deir el-Balah, said the majority of people in Gaza City’s Shujayea and Tuffa neighbourhoods were displaced Palestinians.

“They have found themselves in another dilemma, pushed to move west after the Israeli military issued sharp evacuation orders, sending text messages and dropping leaflets,” Mahmoud said, adding that the orders came approximately 30 minutes into the military’s operations there.

“People are being forced into internal displacement over and over. It is becoming part of their daily routine, a new normal,” Mahmoud said.

He said some families cannot evacuate given the “dense presence of quadcopters, surveillance drones and heavy artillery”.

Surprise attack

Residents said they were taken by surprise by the sound of tanks approaching and firing in the early afternoon, with drones also attacking after overnight bombing of the city, which Israel had bombarded early in its assault on Gaza.

“It sounded as if the war is restarting, a series of bombings that destroyed several houses in our area and shook the buildings,” Mohammad Jamal, 25, a resident of Gaza City, told the Reuters news agency.

Israeli forces also continued to bombard the southern city of Rafah in what it says are the final stages of an operation against Hamas fighters there.

More than 1 million Palestinians had previously sought shelter in the area until Israeli forces launched a ground assault last month, forcing most of those who sought shelter to flee once again.

Gaza’s Health Ministry said at least 47 Palestinians were killed and many more were wounded in the past 24-hour reporting period.

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A Palestinian woman is pushed in a wheelchair as she flees her home following an Israeli military operation in Shujayea, in Gaza City [Dawoud Abu Alkas/Reuters]

More than eight months into Israel’s assault on Gaza, aid officials say the enclave remains at high risk of famine, with almost half a million people facing “catastrophic” food insecurity.

“We are being starved in Gaza City, and are being hunted by tanks and planes with no hope that this war is ever ending,” Jamal said.

International mediation backed by the US has failed to yield a ceasefire agreement although talks are continuing amid intense Western pressure for Gaza to receive more aid. Israeli forces are continuing to block the entry of much-needed humanitarian aid, medical supplies, and fuel after it sealed borders shut when it seized the vital Rafah border crossing last month.

The Palestinian Red Crescent (PRCS) said 18 of its ambulance vehicles are no longer operational due to a lack of fuel. This represents 36 percent of the PRCS’s ambulance fleet capacity, the group said in a post on X.

“The PRCS appeals to the international community for urgent intervention to reopen the Rafah border crossing and allow the flow of humanitarian aid, especially fuel, to prevent the complete collapse of the healthcare system due to the cessation of hospital generators,” the group added.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies