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By Khaza Moinuddin Published 6 months ago 5 min read
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The a-Rimal neighbourhood of Gaza City on Thursday, devastated by Israeli airstrikes. Show caption

Gaza

‘The buildings are now ashes’: nowhere feels safe from Israeli bombs in Gaza

Hundreds of thousands displaced as even conflict-weary Palestinians fear they are in uncharted territory

Israel and Hamas at war – live updates

Peter Beaumont

@petersbeaumont1

Thu 12 Oct 2023 13.05 EDT

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There were places in Gaza where, even in times of conflict, Palestinians once felt marginally safer than elsewhere.

Urban centres, the calculation went, were better placed to avoid bombardment than the periphery of the cities, and the peripheries were safer than the rural areas, where Israeli tanks could easily enter.

Buildings facing the sea, vulnerable to shelling from the Israeli war ships just visible on the horizon, were also to be avoided, along with the tallest buildings – often thought by Israel to be used by Hamas for observation points.

On Thursday that message was reinforced as Palestinian residents of the city of Beit Lahiya, in the northern region of the Gaza Strip, which had been hit hard in previous conflicts, said Israeli planes dropped flyers warning them to evacuate their homes and to head to the “known shelters”. "Anyone who is close to Hamas terrorists is risking their life," the leaflet read. “If you follow the instructions of the IDF (Israel Defense Forces), you will not be in danger.”

However, residents of Beit Rahiya said they were hit by an airstrike before the warning was issued.

Part of Gaza Strip reduced to rubble by Israeli airstrikes - video

Those "rules" were put in place in the Gaza Strip on Thursday as Palestinians lined up outside bakeries and grocery stores after spending the night in the ruins of the shattered area, which was plunged into darkness by a near-total power outage. ' no longer applied.

Israel has cut off all food, water, fuel and electricity supplies to the small enclave while its border with Egypt is unavailable.

Israel has targeted areas once considered relatively safe, including al-Rimal in central Gaza City, one of the wealthier areas. After dozens of airstrikes, it is now littered with rubble and broken trees.

Razan, who was forced to evacuate his parents' home in Al Rimal earlier this week, told the Guardian: They destroyed all areas, including our area, which was considered one of the safe areas, starting with the high-rise buildings.

“There are a lot of shops, high-rise residential buildings and commercial offices here. They are all reduced to ashes and people no longer have homes. “I live near the port, on a street called Al Rashid, which is considered one of the safest streets because of the high-rise residential buildings and many international organizations.

"At 2am on Tuesday, someone came and said the building next to my house was going to be bombed and we had to evacuate the area. We were all panicking and afraid. . dark blue

“Ten minutes later, [Israel] bombed the building where people who had been evacuated from their homes were taking shelter. This resulted in many casualties, including three (Palestinian) journalists.

Palestinians celebrate near a burning Israeli civilian car in Beit Rahiya, Gaza Strip, on Saturday. Palestinians celebrate near a burning Israeli civilian car in Beit Rahiya, Gaza Strip, on Saturday. Photo: Ali Mahmood/AP

“When I went back to look at the house the next day, all the windows and doors were gone. Our house is a house that no one can live in. ”

It's even tougher in remote areas where previous Israeli offensives have seen heavy fighting, such as central Gaza towns where refugees are already crowding UN schools.

The United Nations said late Wednesday that the number of people displaced by airstrikes rose 30% in 24 hours to 339,000 people, two-thirds of whom were taking shelter in U.N. schools. Some evacuated to areas where the number of safe areas was dwindling.

The UN Humanitarian Office said Israeli airstrikes since Saturday have destroyed 1,000 homes and left another 560 uninhabitable, while Israel's announcement of a "total siege" has left more than 650,000 people facing severe water shortages. He added that there is. The sewage system was destroyed and foul-smelling sewage spilled onto the streets. At one of the UN schools, 14-year-old Hanan al-Atar said he lost one of his two uncles in the bombing. They were cooking meals when the strike intensified and they hurried to safety. She said her uncle ran back to get clothes for her family and was killed when her home was attacked.

She said: ``There is no electricity or water.We are not happy with our life at this school. I was more comfortable at home,” she said.

People who have experienced violence in the past speak of a different kind of fear this time around. Gaza, no stranger to bombing like any enclave, now feels like it is entering uncharted territory.

A man retrieves his belongings after overnight Israeli shelling in Gaza City. A man collects his belongings after overnight Israeli shelling in Gaza City. Photo: Momen Faiz/NurPhoto/Shutterstock

All of this leads to increased human costs. According to the Hamas-controlled Health Ministry, 1,417 Palestinians have died in Gaza so far, including 447 children and 248 women.

In the southern Gaza town of Khan Yunis, people stood on the rubble left behind after an airstrike destroyed their homes. Mattresses, scarlet pillows, and pale sheets lay covered in soot and dust in the rubble jutting out between concrete blocks.

The woman's body was pulled up wrapped in a white sheet and carried on a stretcher through a crowd of men and boys. An elderly woman, dressed all in black, stumbled down the alley, collapsed and cried in agony.

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