'Losing my humanity': Over 1 million flee from Gaza as Israel readies for ground attack

After it suffered the deadliest attack in its history, Israel unleashed a relentless bombing campaign of the Gaza Strip


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Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

Published: Mon 16 Oct 2023, 10:07 AM

More than one million people have fled their homes in Gaza in scenes of chaos and despair as Israel bombarded the Hamas-ruled territory and continued massing troops Monday in preparation for a full-blown ground invasion.

Israel declared war on the Islamist group a day after waves of its fighters broke through the heavily fortified border on October 7, shooting, stabbing and burning to death more than 1,400 people, most of them civilians.

After it suffered the deadliest attack in its history, Israel unleashed a relentless bombing campaign of the Gaza Strip that has flattened neighbourhoods and killed at least 2,670 people, mainly civilians.

Following an Israeli order to move to the south of the Gaza Strip, people have fled their homes in the north of the enclave to seek shelter wherever they can, including on the streets and in UN-run schools.

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Palestinians carrying whatever belongings they can, in bags and suitcases, or packed onto three-wheeled motorbikes, battered cars, vans and even donkey carts have become a common sight.

"No electricity, no water, no internet. I feel like I'm losing my humanity," said Mona Abdel Hamid, 55, who fled Gaza City to Rafah in the south of the enclave, and is having to stay with strangers.

US President Joe Biden said in an interview with the CBS news programme 60 Minutes that while invading and "taking out the extremists" was needed, any move by Israel to occupy Gaza would be a "big mistake".

A bereaved and infuriated Israel has massed forces outside the long-blockaded enclave of 2.4 million in preparation for what the army has said would be a land, air and sea attack involving a "significant ground operation".

"We are at the beginning of intense or enhanced military operations in Gaza City," spokesman for the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Jonathan Conricus said.

"It would be unsafe for civilians to stay there," he added.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was due back in Israel on Monday after a crisis tour of Middle Eastern countries in a frantic attempt to avert a wider crisis in the volatile region.

But as Israel seeks to avenge the brutal attack, that also saw Hamas militants take scores of hostages including young children, the Arab League and African Union have warned an invasion could lead to "a genocide of unprecedented proportions".

UN chief Antonio Guterres has warned that the entire region was "on the verge of the abyss".


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