On Saturday, hundreds of Palestinians, comprising women, children, the elderly, and the wounded, embarked on a harrowing exodus from northern Gaza to the relative safety of the south. CNN reporters at the scene captured the poignant images of these evacuees as they traversed Salah al-Din street, burdened with bags, food, and water.
For most, their journey, stretching over 5 kilometers, was made on foot, with a few relying on donkeys and carts. The presence of Israeli tanks along the roadside and sporadic gunfire only added to the chaos and fear. In heart-wrenching scenes, families were seen separated in the pandemonium, with parents losing sight of their children.
In a particularly grim moment, evacuees covered bodies lying on the street with cardboard over blankets, a stark reminder of the conflict's toll on civilian life.
Refugees from Al-Shifa Hospital
Among the crowd were individuals who had sought shelter at Al-Shifa hospital, only to be forced to flee again.
Gaza health ministry spokesperson Ashraf Al-Qidra and journalist Ibrahim Shaqoura were among them. Shaqoura's account to CNN was chilling: "The Israeli soldiers bombed the intensive care unit at Al-Shifa hospital, and they threatened to bomb the lower floor, so we decided to leave." He lamented the transformation of the hospital from a sanctuary to a military target, asserting, "The hospital is not a hospital anymore.
It is a military station." Shirin Joudeh, a mother, recounted the horrifying moment when the school in Jabalya, where she and her family were sheltering, collapsed. Her narrative was a tragic one: “My daughter was killed, [and] my nephew was martyred.
Three [other] girls and three women also lost their lives. I managed to pull this child out from under the rubble. All my children are barefoot. I grabbed them, and we just ran away." Um Muhammad Hamada, another mother, was seen sitting by the roadside with her three children and two bird cages.
Amid the sound of gunfire, she spoke of her attachment to the birds: "These birds mean a lot to me. They are like spirits that God saved, just like we were saved. I couldn't leave them behind."