'Bombings everywhere': No escape for Gaza's displaced

'Bombings everywhere': No escape for Gaza's displaced
3 min read
18 November, 2023
Palestinians fleeing the north of the Gaza Strip have been targeted by deadly Israeli airstrikes despite heeding orders to move south
An Israeli airstrike hit the Nuseirat refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip, killing at least 18 people [Getty]

Airstrikes, destroyed houses and loved ones annihilated by bombs: Palestinians who fled the north of the Gaza Strip on Israeli orders have found no trace of the safety promised to them.

Nada Abu Hiya is eight years old and suffered her third bombing of the war at the Nuseirat refugee camp on Friday.

"First they bombed my grandfather's house where we lived" in Gaza City, she told AFP. "Then we went to Deir el-Balah, where we were bombed again.

"So we came here and they bombed us again."

At dawn on Friday an Israeli plane bombed the Nuseirat camp, in the central Gaza Strip, killing 18 people according to local health officials.

"There are bombings everywhere," said Nada. "My grandmother is dead, my mother is dead, my grandfather is dead, my uncle is dead, they destroyed our house. Our neighbours' house is also destroyed and they are all dead."

The child is among hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who fled Gaza City and other parts of the north in recent weeks after Israeli forces ordered residents to move south as they wage an indiscriminate military offensive on the territory.

In all, more than 1.5 million people have been displaced in Gaza, nearly two-thirds of the territory's population, according to the United Nations. The mass displacement of northern Gaza's population has raised fears of ethnic cleansing and a "second Nakba".

Israel has vowed to "crush" Hamas in response to the group's October 7 attack, when it broke through Gaza's militarised border to kill about 1,200 people and take around 240 hostage, according to Israeli officials.

The Israeli military's indiscriminate air and ground campaign against Gaza has flattened towns and districts and targeted schools and hospitals. 12,000 people have been killed, including 5,000 children and over 3,000 women.

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'I'm your mother' 

The victims of Friday's bombing at Nuseirat included seven of Azhar al-Rifi's relatives, three of them children. It was the second time that her family had been bombed.

Rifi, 36, first fled the north to stay with relatives in Deir el-Balah, only for their house to be destroyed. She then sought refuge at the Nuseirat camp.

Rifi was admitted to hospital in Deir al-Balah with leg injuries, while her two-year-old son Mohammed survived with a head injury.

"They said the south was safer, so we moved," she said. But her five-year-old nephew Joud was killed.

"Two weeks ago, his mother died, so my husband decided that he would live with us," she said.

"He arrived last night and said to me: 'Now that my mother is dead, I can no longer call anyone mom'.

"I replied: 'I'm your mother'."

The boy went to sleep in a room with 12 other children, she said.

"At four in the morning he was taken away from us."