Home News Gazans flee Jabaliya as Israeli forces launch new offensive

Gazans flee Jabaliya as Israeli forces launch new offensive

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The northern town of Jabaliya was already under heavy attack by Israeli forces early in the war. kill Many civilians and destroyed much of the suburbs. So as Israeli ground forces moved to other parts of the Gaza Strip and military strikes focused elsewhere, residents thought they were seeing the worst of it.

But last week, the Israeli military once again distributed leaflets over Jabaliya, home to tens of thousands of people, ordering them to leave and prepare to launch a new offensive.

“When the Israelis handed out leaflets, people got scared, especially given their previous experiences,” said Iman Abu Jalhum, 23, who graduated from medicine two months before the war began. After graduating from the hospital, he has been working as a volunteer in the hospital to treat the wounded. “We thought we were safe given that we were already under attack; the Israelis were already here.”

Shortly after the flyers fell, she said, so did the bombs. Ms. Abu Jalhum, her 16-year-old sister, and her parents fled their home during the bombing. She only had time to throw a few items of clothing into a bag and throw on a prayer shawl.

Her father had back problems and struggled to walk. Eventually, they found a donkey cart to take him the rest of the way, a few miles south.

Israel says it has updated attack in Jabaliya on May 11, as Hamas attempts to reorganize its infrastructure and operatives in the area. Hamas accused Israel of “escalating its aggression against civilians across Gaza” and vowed to keep fighting.

An Israeli airstrike on Jabaliya on Saturday killed at least 15 civilians and injured 30 others, the Palestinian Authority’s official news agency Wafa reported. Ambulances and emergency personnel were reportedly unable to reach the area to rescue the injured and retrieve the bodies.

The Israeli military said on Saturday it had “engaged and neutralized” Hamas militants in multiple battles in Jabaliya and found several tunnel shafts. Hamas said its militants destroyed an Israeli tank south of Jabaliya.

Ms. Abu Jahoum and her family are among at least 64,000 people displaced from Jabaliya and neighboring towns in the past week, according to UNRWA, the main U.N. agency aiding the Palestinians.

They were now taking refuge in a bombed-out building a few miles south, where the smell of bodies that had not yet been recovered hung in the air. She said attacks were still taking place nearby, but with fewer explosions and no clashes between Israeli troops and Hamas militants.

On Thursday, Ms. Abu Jahoum walked for 45 minutes along the rubble-strewn streets, trying to return to Jabaliya to check on her home. But she said as she approached her neighbor, the explosion was too close to continue.

“Yes, we have some courage, but we are still afraid,” she said. “You might see martyrs being killed on the streets where no one can see them. You worry there might be snipers. Drones might be targeting anyone walking on the street.”

Her family had to flee several times during the seven months of war, but they always went to stay with relatives who lived in the same area. This time, she said, the offensive was more widespread and intense.

“We just want to go home,” she added. “We are so tired. You can see it on our faces. Sometimes we want to cry but we can’t.”

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