On foot, by horse-drawn cart and clinging to the sides of overcrowded trucks, Palestinians on Sunday fled southwards through Gaza to escape Israeli air strikes, telling of their fear, despair and bitter sense of abandonment.
“Nowhere is safe in Gaza. My son was injured and there was not a single hospital I could take him to so he could get stitches,” said displaced Palestinian Ahmed al-Kahlout. “There is no water, there isn’t even salt water we can wash our hands with.”
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He had been forced to leave his home to search for basic necessities for his family while “there are bodies filling Gaza’s streets”.
There are still people hoping the conflict will be solved soon, he said.
“But only God knows if it’ll be solved. The whole world has let us down, the progressive world that boasts about human rights has let us down.”
Also heading south, a Palestinian woman, Mariam al-Borno, said death, displacement and hunger had forced her and her children to leave home “to flee for our lives.”
“We saw death with our own eyes. Throughout it all we were afraid.”
People at a United Nations Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) school in Beit Lahia, where they had sought shelter, were looking at a crater left by an explosion.
“Even at UNRWA shelters we can’t find safety,” said one man.
“I’m just searching for a safe place, nothing more, to save myself and my children,” he said.
Outside Gaza’s largest hospital, Al Shifa, entertainer Alaa Miqdad gathered displaced children and put on a clown show.
“Despite the pain we are living in and the hurt, we will smile through the pain,” he said.
But Ismail al-Najjar, whose family’s residential compound in Khan Younis in the south was hit by an air strike, was less sanguine.
“I was coming with my horse, I stopped the horse, the aircraft came and fired something … there was bombardment everywhere.”
“It is not just destruction; it is an earthquake … I ask God to take vengeance on the killers of children,” he said.