A man carries an Palestinian child injured in an Israeli attack at hospital in Rafah, Gaza on October 13, 2023.
(Photo: Abed Rahim Khatib/Anadolu via Getty Images)
Israeli Airstrike on Gaza Civilian Convoy Kills 70—Mostly Women and Children: Report
The alleged massacre followed an Israeli order for people in northern Gaza to evacuate to “save their lives” ahead of an expected massive ground invasion.
After warning 1.1 million Palestinians to evacuate northern Gaza ahead of an expected ground invasion of the besieged enclave, Israeli forces reportedly bombed a civilian convoy on Friday, killing 70 people—mostly women and children—according to the territory’s Interior Ministry.
Interior Ministry spokesperson Iyad Al-Buzm said the convoy was struck as around 150 civilians were making their way through the Al-Zeytoun neighborhood in Gaza City. Hamas—which governs Gaza—said the convoy was hit in three places.
Videos posted on social media showed the convoy, including a towed trailer packed with people, before and after it was hit by the Israeli airstrike. Graphic footage of the attack’s aftermath showed dead bodies strewn about the street, as well as wounded victims in a local hospital.
The alleged attack came after Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant warned that Palestinians wishing to “save their lives” must evacuate to the south within 24 hours before an expected invasion.
Israel’s air, land, and sea bombardment of Gaza—home to 2.3 million people and one of the world’s most densely populated areas—has already killed nearly 2,000 people, including more than 600 children, and wounded nearly 8,000 others since Saturday, when Gaza-based Hamas and other militants launched a surprise cross-border attack that left over 1,300 Israelis dead.
In addition to the bombing, Israel has imposed a full blockade on the already besieged strip, cutting off food, water, fuel, and medicines.
Israeli forces have been accused of war crimes for leveling entire Gaza neighborhoods and indiscriminately attacking civilians with weaponry including white phosphorus—which is banned in populated areas under international law. As was the case in previous Israeli attacks on Gaza, entire families have been killed. Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson Daniel Hagari declared Tuesday that “the emphasis is on damage and not on accuracy.”
Many Palestinians said they did not know where they could safely flee, as Israel controls most points of ingress and egress to Gaza. After encouraging Gazans to leave through the Rafah Border Crossing—the sole point of entry and exit along the Egyptian border—Israeli forces bombed it on Tuesday.
United Nations humanitarian official Martin Griffiths wrote on social media Friday that “the order to evacuate 1.1 million people from northern Gaza defies the rules of war and basic humanity.”
“The noose around the civilian population in Gaza is tightening,” he added. “How are 1.1 million people supposed to move across a densely populated warzone in less than 24 hours? I shudder to think what the humanitarian consequences of the evacuation order would be.”
The U.S. peace group Win Without War said Friday that “we forcefully condemn the Israeli government’s call for over a million residents of Gaza—almost half of whom are estimated to be children—to evacuate to the south within 24 hours.”
“We echo the warnings from the U.N. and various other organizations that this order is impossible to execute and will put the lives of hundreds of thousands at risk,” the group added. “The elderly, the disabled, and children will be placed in particular and unconscionable danger.”
Numerous Palestinians said they would not heed the Israeli evacuation order, with some saying they feared a new Nakba, a reference to the ethnic cleansing of more than 750,000 Arabs from Palestine during the foundation of the modern state of Israel in 1947-48.
“If we’re going to die here, we’re going to die in our homes,” Gaza resident Mansour Shouman toldAl Jazeera on Friday. “We’re going to die in the north or the south. We’re going to die with our heads up high, standing on our lands, standing with our rights, and holding strong to our faith.”