“We were sitting quietly when suddenly an F-16 hit a house and blew it up, three houses collapsed, one next to the other,” said an eyewitness, Mohammed Abu Daka.
Thousands of Palestinian civilians are still fleeing the northern Gaza Strip on foot todayseeking a safe haven in the south from Israeli bombardment and fighting between Israeli soldiers and Hamas.
This exit took place at four o’clock “window of opportunity” announced Israel, which has called on residents in the northern part of the enclave to leave.
But central and southern parts of besieged Gaza have come under fire again as the war enters its second month.
Palestinian health officials said aerial bombardment of homes in the Nuseirat refugee camp killed 18 people in the morning. Six other people were killed in Khan Younes, including a little girl.
“We were sitting quietly when suddenly an F-16 hit a house and blew it up, three houses collapsed, one next to the othersaid an eyewitness, Mohammed Abu Daka.
“They were all civilians. A grandmother, a grandfather and there are others under the debris“, he added.
Gaza City, the stronghold of Hamas, is surrounded by Israeli forces. The army says it has advanced into the heart of the densely populated city while Hamas claims its fighters have inflicted heavy casualties on the Israeli army.
Israeli military spokesman Vice Admiral Daniel Haggari said army engineers were using explosives to destroy Hamas’ underground network that stretches hundreds of kilometers under Gaza.
In its announcement today, the Israeli military said it has destroyed 130 tunnel shafts so far.
Sources close to Hamas and Islamic Jihad said, however, that Israeli tanks are meeting fierce resistance and the militants are using the tunnels to set up ambushes. Israel has announced that 33 of its soldiers were killed in these operations.
In the meantime, thousands of civilians, holding their few possessions in their hands, were still heading south today to escape the bombings and the fighting. An AFP journalist based in the Palestinian enclave said the pace of the civilian phalanx picked up today.
Footage released by the Israeli military today shows tanks and bulldozers moving through the rubble, which is still billowing with smoke. Soldiers infiltrate the ruined buildings as explosions are heard.
Bodies of Palestinians killed by the strikes were being transported to hospitals – some in donkey carts, others on bulldozers.
“It was scary,” said Ola al-Woul, a woman who left on Tuesday. “We raised our hands and walked. There were so many of us, we were holding white flags».
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