Dogs biting at a human corpse. An exhausted, heavily pregnant woman carrying a toddler on her back. A seemingly lifeless body pushed on a cart. The sights of the Salah al-Din road, the main highway that runs like a spine through Gaza, remain with those who’ve walked it.
“What we experienced cannot be seen in horror movies,” said Nahla from Beit Lahia in northern Gaza.
Under siege, hungry, thirsty, and encircled by Israeli troops, her family had been determined to stay in their homes. But one night the intense Israeli bombing campaign left their house in ruins. “Miraculously, we escaped death and sought refuge in our neighbours’ house,” she said. At 6am the next morning, Nahla and her four children began the slow walk south.
Israel’s war has split the territory of 2.3 million people in two, with the military telling Palestinians to move below the Gaza river to what it calls “safe zones”. Still, it has continued to bomb the entire strip, wiping out families it says are unfortunate causalities in its targeting of militants.
To get people to move, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have often advertised what they call “humanitarian corridors” along the Salah al-Din Road for four hours a day, which they say is to help civilians to flee. UN rights experts warn, however, that demands for civilians to leave while under bombardment, and with no guarantee of safe return, amount to a forcible population transfer, which is a crime against humanity. [Continue reading…]