Rami Sharab managed to reach the center of the Gaza Strip by walking for hours, accompanied by the wounded and terrified children, following the Israeli army’s order to evacuate the main hospital in the Palestinian territory. The Al Shifa medical complex, where Sharab, his sister, his brother, and his mother took refuge, housed 2,300 people, including the sick, injured, displaced, and doctors trapped for weeks amid combat and the siege of Israeli tanks.
On the road crossing the Strip, a crowd advances step by step; some carry their disabled children, others move forward with their children in their arms. On one side, warehouses with flattened roofs and burned vehicles; on the other, Israeli soldiers watch from armored vehicles and tanks.
Barefoot children walk, some older people move with canes, and families who can afford it advance in carts pulled by donkeys or horses. Some carry white flags; others carry bags and packages of diapers. Fatigued and anguished faces reflect exhaustion and sadness, but Sharab feels relief after the evacuation.
The hospital, besieged by the Israeli army, was accused of being used by Hamas as a base and of using the sick as “human shields.” Sharab recounts that, upon hearing the speakers and receiving the order to evacuate in an hour, he chose to leave immediately. While the Israeli army claims to have responded to a “request for evacuation,” doctors previously reported shots fired at those trying to leave the hospital.
Sharab’s and other refugees’ odyssey underscores the suffering of the civilian population amid the conflict, with accounts of interrogations, searches, forced nudity, and a situation described as “hell.” With the Gaza Strip under constant reprisal, the escalation of violence has left thousands of Palestinian civilians dead and widespread devastation.