Gazans flood road north after rumours of 'open checkpoint' - GulfToday

Gazans flood road north after rumours of 'open checkpoint'


Displaced Palestinians cross coastal Rashid road to return in the central Gaza Strip on Sunday. AFP

Thousands of Gazans flooded the coast road north on Sunday after hearing that several people managed to cross a closed checkpoint towards Gaza City, despite Israel denying it was open.

An AFP journalist saw mothers holding their children's hands and families piling onto donkey carts with their luggage as they made the journey.

They hoped to cross a military checkpoint on Al Rashid road south of Gaza City, but the Israeli army told AFP that reports the route was open were "not true."

On the other side, desperate families waited for their loved ones in the rubble of the battered main city in the Palestinian territory.

Mahmoud Awdeh said he was waiting for his wife, who has been in the southern city of Khan Yunis since the start of the war on October 7.

"She told me over the phone that people are leaving the southern part and heading to the north," Awdeh said. "She told me she's waiting at the checkpoint until the army agrees to let her head to the north," he said, hoping she would be able to cross safely.

Refuge in Rafah

During the day rumours also spread that the Israeli army was allowing women, children and men over 50 to go to the north, a claim denied by the army.

Gazan-returns2 Displaced Palestinians take the coastal Rashid road to return to Gaza City on Sunday. AFP

Several Gazans said they came under attack on the route and AFP footage showed people ducking for cover.

The Palestinian official news agency Wafa said "Israeli occupation forces bomb(ed) displaced Palestinians as they were trying to return to the north of Gaza Strip through Al Rasheed street." Wafa shared a video on X which AFP has not verified showing people running away from a blast.

Nour, a displaced Gazan, told AFP: "When we arrived at the (Israeli) checkpoint, they would let women pass or stop them, but they shot at men so we had to return, we didn't want to die." The Israeli military did not offer a comment when asked by AFP.

'Too little too late'

Elsewhere in Gaza the fighting continued on Sunday after Iran launched a huge drone and missile attack on Israel overnight.

Iran's first-ever direct assault on Israeli territory came in retaliation for a deadly strike on Tehran's consulate in the Syrian capital.

The strike that Iran blamed on Israel left seven Revolutionary Guards dead, including two generals. But in Rafah on Sunday, Palestinians told AFP they were underwhelmed by Iran's attack on Israel.

"The Iranian response came so late, after 190 days of war," Khaled Al Nems told AFP. "You can see our suffering." "Their response is too little too late," he added.

Walid Al Kurdi, a displaced Palestinian living in Rafah, said that "Iran's attack on Israel is not really our business." "The only thing we care about is going back to our homes," he said. "We are waiting for the coming 48 hours to see if (Israel) responds to Iran, or if they are playing with us and want to distract attention away from Rafah."

Peace talks

Israel and Hamas have accused each other of undermining negotiations for a truce in Gaza and a hostage release deal, although the talks have not collapsed.

Hamas said Saturday it had submitted its response to Egyptian and Qatari mediators on a proposed truce with Israel in the Gaza Strip, insisting on a "permanent ceasefire."

Truce talks started on April 7 in Cairo but have so far brought no breakthrough on a plan presented by US, Qatari and Egyptian mediators.

In a statement, the Palestinian group said it "reaffirms adherence to its demands" including "a permanent ceasefire, the withdrawal of the occupation army from the entire Gaza Strip, the return of the displaced to their areas and places of residence, intensification of the entry of relief and aid, and the start of reconstruction." Hamas said it was also ready "to conclude a serious and real prisoner exchange deal between the two parties."

Gaza's death toll

 The health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said on Sunday that at least 33,729 people have been killed in the territory during more than six months of war between Israel and Hamas.

The toll includes at least 43 deaths over the past 24 hours, a ministry statement said, adding that 76,371 people have been wounded in the Gaza Strip since the war began when Hamas attacked Israel on Oct.7.

Canada has warned citizens to avoid all travel to Israel, Gaza and the West Bank, upgrading its risk assessment of the region due to the increased threat of attacks.

Foreign Minister Melanie Joly posted a statement on social media site X saying Canadians already in the area should consider leaving by commercial means.

"With a heightened risk of attacks on Israeli territory, the regional security situation remains highly volatile & could escalate without notice," Joly posted.

The federal government had previously advised Canadians to avoid non-essential travel to the region.


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