Gaza: Ayman Al-Masri joined thousands of people seeking safety in southern Gaza on Friday after fleeing the enclave’s main hospital in what Palestinian officials said was an Israeli air strike.
Masri had taken refuge at Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, in the north of the enclave, with his mother and sister 10 days ago after receiving treatment in another hospital for a leg wound.
Their hopes that they had found safety were shattered by an attack that Palestinian officials said killed one person and wounded others who were sheltering at Al Shifa, one of several hospitals which officials said were hit on Friday.
“They struck Shifa today… Everyone started to run to the streets and we came here walking,” Masri told Reuters as he and others made their way south, some with belongings, mattresses, and luggage, and others carrying white flags.
He said he and his family walked three kilometres (two miles) before passing Israeli tanks that had advanced to the city and walked a few more kilometres beyond the tanks before getting a lift.
“My leg pains me,” he said. “Today we are going south, tomorrow they may send us north. This isn’t a solution. We want a truce.”
Israel did not immediately comment but says it does not target civilians and goes to great lengths to avoid hitting them. It says Hamas militants have hidden command centres and tunnels beneath Shifa, allegations which Hamas denies.
Israel has been pounding Gaza from the air, sea and ground since Hamas gunmen broke through the enclave’s border fence on Oct. 7 and carried out an attack in which Israel said 1,400 people were killed and about 240 abducted.
Palestinian officials say more 11,000 people have been killed in Gaza since Israel began its military campaign, and Gaza’s hospitals are struggling to cope, with medical supplies, clean water and fuel to power generators running out.
A woman who fled Al Shifa on Friday said she had been receiving treatment for a wound in the maternity department.
“We were on the fifth floor because we were wounded so we were staying there, and then we found bombs falling on us,” she said. “They made us run to the streets.”
Video shared on social media, and verified by Reuters, showed chaotic scenes in what appeared to be a covered, outdoor area near Al Shifa’s outpatient department, where displaced people had been sleeping.
A girl in a purple T-shirt, with blood smeared over her face, neck and hands, wailed in anguish and flapped her arms frantically. A boy lay face-up and lifeless on a mattress on the ground, a pool of blood under his head and an arm and a leg hanging over the side of the mattress.
A man lay motionless under a bench, and a woman clad in black sat slumped over a chair next to him.
Clothes, other personal belongings, mattresses and other household items were strewn all around, and there was blood on the floor. People were screaming, weeping and wailing.
One man was shown leading away a crying elderly woman. Two men carried away a young man, one holding his legs, the other his hands.
Reuters was able to confirm the location from the girl seen in the video wearing a purple T-shirt and dark trousers, who is also seen in other footage at the entrance of the hospital.
The appearance of the hospital entrance also matched file imagery and the source has uploaded several videos from the hospital previously and was known to be there.
(Published 10 November 2023, 16:24 IST)