(CTN News) – On Saturday, over 80 people were murdered in airstrikes that targeted packed UN shelters in the Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza. Hundreds of thousands of civilians have sought safety in the area, and their worries have been heightened by Israeli preparations to expand operations into south Gaza.
In the early hours of Saturday morning, an airstrike near the southern town of Khan Younis killed at least 26 people, highlighting the fact that Gaza’s inhabitants are nowhere safe.
There were just 120 critically ill patients and five doctors left at al-Shifa, the largest hospital in northern Gaza. Basic medical supplies were the only option for the area’s growing number of casualties as the bombs kept dropping.
A UN-run school in the Jabalia camp was attacked before daybreak, killing at least 50 people. Another structure in the camp was struck, killing 32 people from a single family, 19 of them children, according to officials from the Hamas-run health ministry who spoke to AFP.
Images captured outside the Indonesian medical facility showed over twenty corpses arrayed and covered with blankets smeared with blood. UN officials denounced the deaths.
A safe haven is a shelter. Educational institutions serve as classrooms. On X, UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths broke the tragic news of the deaths of children, women, and men who were sheltering at the al-Fakhouri school in northern Gaza. “Civilians ought not to be subjected to this indefinitely.”
Israeli forces, which had earlier issued an Arabic-language social media warning to Jabalia residents to evacuate, did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding the strikes.
For weeks, Israel has warned residents of Gaza City and the surrounding area to go southward for safety, and many have followed suit. Several people who had just been displaced from the north live in the southern regions surrounding Khan Younis town, and the Israeli military finally issued a call to evacuate those areas last week.
After four days of looking for signs of an underground Hamas command node, Israeli troops finally left Gaza’s largest hospital, al-Shifa, as a procession of patients, medics, and refugees trudged out.
According to Hamas officials, the Israeli military told the patients and staff to evacuate the facility.
According to an IDF spokesman, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) escorted medical personnel to safety.
Those making their way south, under the watchful eye of Israeli forces, had little chance of relief after navigating a hellscape of twisted debris that had been buildings two months prior, along roads devastated by bullets and turned to mud by tanks.
The United Nations has issued a dire warning that Palestinians confront the “immediate possibility” of famine due to the scarcity of food and water, which has led to overcrowding in shelters. Contagious diseases are on the rise, and the conflict is set to escalate in the days ahead.
Israeli leaflets advised inhabitants to flee south of the Wadi Gaza wetlands for their protection when Israeli planes attacked northern Gaza at the beginning of the war and troops were prepared to move in.
Hundreds of thousands obeyed the commands, even though there was serious overcrowding in shelters and private residences and a risk of harm on the way. According to the United Nations, over two-thirds of the population—roughly 1.6 million people—are now displaced.
Relative safety was all they could find. Israel had deemed the southern regions safer, although 3,676 people had already been slain forty days into the battle. Using data from Gaza’s health authorities, a UN map showed that they were responsible for one-third of all Palestinian casualties in the fighting.
A large portion of that population has just been ordered to relocate once again, this time to a far more condensed region bordering the coast near the town of Mawasi.
The people of Gaza were told to flee to the south. We swung southward. We are being asked to depart now. Shall we proceed?” Reuters spoke with Atya Abu Jab outside the improvised tent that his family resides in after fleeing Gaza City.
Bombs detonated early Saturday morning at a multi-story building in Hamad City, a middle-class neighborhood in Khan Younis, injuring 23 others and killing 26. A home in the town of Deir Al-Balah was the target of an assault that killed six Palestinians a short distance north.
Eyad al-Zaeem’s aunt, along with her children and grandkids, disappeared after he claimed they were ordered to leave north Gaza by the Israelis.
Every one of them died as a martyr. “They were completely unrelated to the (Hamas) resistance,” Zaeem declared outside the Nasser Hospital mortuary.
Israeli forces would launch an offensive “wherever Hamas exists, including in the south of the strip,” according to chief military spokesman R Adm Daniel Hagari’s Friday statement. “We are determined to advance our operation,” he stated.
Last week, Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged in an interview that civilian casualties were high due to the battle, but he placed the blame on Hamas. Keeping civilian casualties to a minimum is our goal. However, he did inform CBS that they were unsuccessful.
If the battle in the south escalates, citizens’ potential escape routes are unclear. Before the violence broke out on October 7th, when Hamas attacked Israel, killing 1,200 people—the majority of them civilians—Gaza was already very densely inhabited.
Of that total, 2.3 million called the 365 square kilometers of land their home. The north is now almost deserted, and most people have fled to the south, either to private residences or the congested UN shelters.
Because of fuel shortages, communications issues, and limitations on bringing humanitarian goods into Gaza, aid agencies say they are unable to give Palestinians there with food, water, and medical care.
The war’s indirect toll would rise if people were ordered to flee into a narrower region, making these difficulties worse. Israeli security officials have been forthright in their belief that the already record number of civilian casualties will continue to climb as the conflict moves into densely populated regions.
“It will not deter us or prevent us from moving forward,” Giora Eiland, a former head of Israel’s National Security Council, told Reuters, adding, “There will probably be more civilian casualties.”
More than 12,000 were killed, including 5,000 children, according to the latest toll released on Friday by health authorities operated by Hamas. The UN considers those statistics reliable based on verification procedures in previous conflicts involving Gaza.
A number of Gazans and others in the surrounding area are worried that Israel plans to forcefully remove Palestinians from their devastated homeland in the hopes of causing another “Nakba,” or catastrophe.
The Arabic word for this event refers to the 1948 forcible expulsion of around 750,000 Palestinians from what was formerly British mandate-controlled Palestine when Israel was established.
Israeli agriculture minister and member of the security cabinet Avi Dichter remarked in a TV broadcast a week ago: “We are now rolling out the Gaza Nakba.” Prime Minister Netanyahu cautioned his cabinet ministers to be careful with their language the following day.
At a security forum in Bahrain, regional officials including Jordan’s foreign minister Ayman Safadi urged Israel not to attempt to force Palestinians from the land and pledged to do “whatever it takes to stop” their relocation.”We will never stand by and watch that happen; it’s a war crime and it would jeopardize our national security.”