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Displaced again, Gazans flee under fire

January 22, 2024 at 7:42 pm

Palestinians, who had returned to the area, try to gather salvageable belongings from the debris of their destroyed homes in Zawaida region of Deir Al-Balah, Gaza on January 20, 2024 [Ashraf Amra – Anadolu Agency]

Mariam Abu Haleeb and her family were on the move again on Monday, the seventh time they had been displaced in less than four months of war, Reuters reports.

She and other Gazans, their cars and donkey carts piled high with belongings, fled what they said was a terrifying night at the Al-Aqsa University in the west of Khan Yunis, where they had taken shelter after being told again it was risky to stay put.

They had no idea where to go next.

What hurts me most is that my old mother is under siege. My siblings and their children are besieged. Everyone, everyone. All of Khan Yunis needed help yesterday

she said.

“This is the seventh time I’ve been displaced, or maybe even more. Torture, torture, torture,” she said, weeping.

Mohammad Abu Haleeb said many people had pitched their tents at the University after the Israeli military warned them to move from other areas as they stormed through the southern Gaza city, where they now say Hamas leaders are hiding.

In the evening, gunfire started – shelling and air strikes from every direction. I couldn’t move with my nine children at all. There was a building inside that we all entered and we stayed there until the morning. No one was able to leave

“There were injured and martyred people that no one was able to reach,” he said.

Israel says it tries hard to protect civilians but that Hamas deliberately fights amongst them, an allegation Hamas deny.

In the end, Abu Haleeb said he escaped through the University’s back entrance and headed towards Rafah at the southern tip of the narrow coastal Strip, where almost a million people have already taken shelter in a town of 300,000.

“I do not know where I should go, as you see,” he said, standing by his car on the side of the road.

Ahmad Abu-Shaweesh, a young boy, was helping relatives unload their belongings, placing them on the ground.

“We hardly made it out of the University under the shelling. We didn’t expect the tanks at the University’s gates. We hardly made it out,” he said.

Manal Abu-Jamea said he had been sheltering at Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis and was then told it wasn’t safe anymore, only to find that the University complex wasn’t, either.

“We left under air strikes and bullets flying in our direction. I took my children and ran away with them.

Nahed Abu-Jamea said he had been on the road for four hours and did not know what to do next.

“There isn’t a safe place,” he said. “Let us live safely.”

READ: Health situation in Khan Yunis in state of catastrophe, says Gaza Health Ministry