Palestinians homeless and hopeless as Israel storms Gaza City again

Lubna Masarwa & Nader Durgham

Middle East Eye  /  July 8, 2024

Under heavy Israeli air strikes, thousands of exhausted and confused families are forced into the unknown in the dead of night. 

The Israeli military launched a new massive assault on Gaza City in the early hours of Monday, forcibly displacing thousands of Palestinian families into the unknown in the dead of the night. 

The scene was likened to “the day of judgement” by eyewitnesses and survivors, who said the bombing intensity was reminiscent of the initial invasion of Gaza at the start of the war. 

Heavy air strikes started around midnight and lasted into the early hours of Monday, rocking the war-ravaged area and sending people into a panic. 

Under shelling, families were forced to leave the affected areas in the eastern, southern and southwestern parts of the city to the western and central areas. 

Patients at the Ahli Arab hospital, the only health facility partly operational in the area, were among those forced to flee. 

The hospital was struck by two missiles as the Israeli military ordered everyone to leave. 

Hospitals, schools, shelters, homes and other civilian facilities in the city have all but been destroyed in previous Israeli aerial and ground attacks over the past nine months. 

Most of those who fled overnight were exhausted, confused and out of options, witnesses told Middle East Eye

“The scene is really, really sad,” said Enas Rami, a central Gaza City resident. 

“I saw an old man on a bicycle pushed by his son and an elderly woman being moved on a wheelchair,” she added. 

“Some people were forced to sleep on the streets. The scene was really depressing. It’s torture.”

A death toll was not immediately available, mainly due to the collapse of hospitals and the health system. 

However, the Palestinian news agency WAFA said there were dozens of people killed and wounded in the attack on the eastern Daraj, Tuffah and Old City neighbourhoods.

Additionally, at least 10 people were killed in an Israeli strike on a home in Jabalia, north of Gaza City.

Richard Sewell of the Anglican Diocese of Jerusalem, which runs the al-Ahli Arab hospital, called the situation “deeply distressing”.

The Israeli military said Monday it launched a new operation in the Tel al-Hawa neighborhood, located in western Gaza City, adding it was operating at the UNRWA headquarters in the area. 

On Sunday, the military issued displacement orders to residents of Daraj, Tuffah and the Old City. 

Palestinians also reported that the Holy Family Parish in Gaza City, where many Palestinian Christians are taking shelter, has been declared a “red zone” by the Israeli army and put under siege.

“We are okay. The situation is very difficult, we pray for peace,” said Gabriel Romanelli, the pastor at the church, in a post on Facebook.

The information comes a day after an Israeli strike on the Holy Family School, where many displaced Palestinians are staying, killed four people.

Over 38,000 Palestinians have been killed since the start of Israel’s war on Gaza, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

Researchers at the leading medical journal the Lancet said last week this number is likely an underestimate as collecting data in Gaza has become increasingly difficult.

According to them, up to 186,000 deaths or more could be attributed to the war on Gaza, according to a “conservative estimate” taking into account indirect deaths.

Lubna Masarwa is a journalist and Middle East Eye’s Palestine and Israel bureau chief, based in Jerusalem

Nader Durgham is a Lebanese journalist based in Beirut