Gazans, as Bombs Fall, Say Escape Is Impossible

From the explosions outside, Mr. Hamda could not really judge whether the Israelis really were close by. In his apartment, it all sounded the same: boom after boom, scaring the kids, whether from airstrikes, artillery fire or something else.

Their nerves torn to pieces by the most intense night yet of Israeli bombardment, their information limited by lack of electricity and reliable internet, Mr. Hamda and many others in Gaza City had only this to conclude: The Israelis were there, and they, the civilians, had no good choices.

“You either leave or die,” Mr. Hamda said. “These are the options.”

He added: “I’m very scared for my children. I don’t want them to go through this.”

Israel has warned for weeks that civilians in northern Gaza, including those in Gaza City, should evacuate south to avoid the violence.

Many did, only to return home after Israeli bombs pounded the neighborhoods where they were sheltering in the south. Others never left, unable to afford the increasingly expensive taxi ride south or, like Mr. Hamda, convinced things were no safer in the south.

“If they invade on the ground, we will die at home,” Bilal Assabti, a 30-year-old unemployed father of two young children, said by phone on Monday evening. “We do not have anyone in the south. Where should we go?”

That grim determination held for some in Gaza City on Monday, even as they heard that Israeli forces were advancing nearby. After all, some pointed out, Salah Al-Din Road, where the video appeared to show Israeli forces firing on a civilian car, was the main escape route south.

In the video, the car can be seen heading north when it nears an Israeli military position. It is hit as it is turning around, the blast appearing to shove it off the road.

The car of the person filming immediately makes a U-turn. “Go back! Go back!” someone shouts when it passes another vehicle on the road.

The New York Times has verified that the video was filmed this morning south of Gaza City on Salah Al-Din Road. The Times has also identified multiple armored vehicles at an Israeli military position at the location of the incident.

Youssef Al Saifi, 28, who filmed the video, said in an interview that he had also seen the Israeli forces firing on a bus.

Asked about the video, the chief spokesman for the Israeli military, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, said that he would not detail the location of Israeli forces.

After his brother told him about the tanks on Salah Al-Din Road, Jamal Azzam, a nurse at the Turkish Palestinian Friendship Hospital south of Gaza City, left the hospital for his home in the city. “The north of Gaza is cut off from the south of Gaza now,” he said. “Who can return to the hospital now?”

Mr. Assabti has ruled out leaving, even if the invasion draws close. Unable to pay rent elsewhere or to find a relative or friend to stay with in the south, he has run out of all options, he said.

At home, his family can use the bathroom without having to line up and can sleep in a bed with enough blankets. They can get water from a nearby water desalination plant that runs on solar panels, though they are subsisting only on stocks of canned food.

“We’ve already lived through 30 years of suffering,” he said, sounding worn down. “One would rather die with his family.”

Another Gaza City resident, an Al Jazeera correspondent named Youmna ElSayed, told the network in a live call on Monday that her husband had received a call from the Israeli military telling them to evacuate south “because it’s going to be very dangerous in the area where you are.”

When her husband told the caller that they had heard of Israeli tanks in the main road that could take them south, Ms. ElSayed said, the caller said that he could not tell them which streets to take, and that they should find out for themselves.

“They call us directly and they warn us, telling us to leave and evacuate now, but the bombardments are relentless,” Ms. ElSayed told Al Jazeera.

Every minute, as she spoke, she was interrupted by thunderous blasts.

Christoph Koettland Neil Collier contributed reporting.

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