Israel kills at least five Palestinians returning home in northern Gaza

Yasmine Osama Farag , Monday 15 Apr 2024

Israeli forces opened fire on Palestinians returning home in northern Gaza, killing at least five, said health officials.

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Displaced Palestinians trying to walk back from the central Gaza Strip to the northern Gaza Strip in April 2024. AP

 

Throngs of displaced Gazans had started on Sunday a long march on foot to return home in the war-torn area.

The victims' bodies were taken to the Awda Hospital in the urban Nuseirat camp in central Gaza, AP reported. 

Some 54 Palestinians were injured in this incident, hospital records showed.

Anaam Mohamed, who was displaced from the northern city of Beit Hanoun and was trying to return, said the military was allowing women and children to cross, but when a group of Palestinians did not make room for them to pass, two tanks arrived and opened fire. Forces also threw smoke bombs, dispersing the crowd, according to AP.

“People started to run away. People were afraid and could not take the risk and enter a dangerous area,” she said.

Palestinian WAFA agency cited local sources saying that the occupation war boats opened fire on Monday on hundreds of displaced Palestinians who were trying to return to their homes via Al-Rashid Street, wounding at least two.

On Sunday, people crowded a coastal road and moved north by foot and donkey cart. The returnees said they were prompted to make the dangerous journey because they were fed up with the difficult conditions they were forced to live under while displaced.

“We want our homes. We want our lives. We want to return, whether with a truce or without a truce,” said Um Nidhal Khattab, who was displaced from the north.

Some of the displaced families in central Gaza said they received calls from the Israeli army informing them that men over 50, male children under 14, and women of all ages were allowed to return to the northern Gaza Strip, according to Ma'an news agency.

However, Israeli military spokesman Avichay Adraee reiterated his warning on X that Palestinians should stay in southern Gaza, where they have been told to shelter because the north is a “dangerous combat zone.”

"The rumours according to which the army permitted residents to return to the northern Gaza Strip are lies and lack any basis," Adraee said earlier on Sunday.

“The army will not allow the return of residents either through the Salah Al-Din axis or through the Rashid axis (Al-Bahr)," he added.

Northern Gaza was an early target of Israel's war and vast parts of it have been flattened, forcing much of the area’s population to flee south. While around 250,000 people are said to be living in the north, the Israeli military has prevented most displaced people from returning throughout the six-month-long war, saying the area is an active battle zone.

The military has reduced the number of troops it has in Gaza and has said it has loosened Hamas’ control over the north. However, Israel is still carrying out airstrikes and targeted operations in the area against people it claims are reorganized fighters.

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