Thousands of Palestinians are fleeing northern Gaza on foot, waving white flags as they move south in search of refuge from Israel’s air strikes. The United Nations reported that 15,000 Palestinians fled northern Gaza in one day, using the main traffic artery, Salah al-Din Road. The Israeli military gave a four-hour window for residents to leave on Wednesday.
Many are walking south in large groups, fearing attack and hoping for safety in numbers. The Israeli army estimates that 100,000 people remain in northern Gaza, compared to the previous one million.
Israel has encircled Gaza City and is engaged in skirmishes with Palestinian fighters. More than 70 percent of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents have been displaced, including children, the elderly, and people with disabilities. Many are fleeing with minimal belongings, facing Israeli checkpoints and witnessing arrests.
The Israeli bombardment has killed over 10,500 people, including 4,324 children, according to Gaza’s Ministry of Health. The conflict began when Hamas launched attacks on southern Israel, resulting in over 1,400 deaths.
The displacement in Gaza has reignited a painful sense of deja vu for the majority of the population, who are refugees with parents or grandparents who were forcibly expelled from their homes and barred from returning during the founding of Israel in 1948.