Gazans reported seeing and hearing airstrikes across the enclave’s north and south, as well as artillery shelling along the border to the east. Hamas-affiliated media reported heavy gunfire and that clashes were occurring in the north, the focus of Israel’s campaign so far. And NBC News’ team in Gaza witnessed dead and injured people arriving at hospitals in the center and south of the strip.
“Every 10-15 minutes there have been strikes, some of it 500 meters (550 yards) away from us,” Mohammad Ghalayini, 44, who lives in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis, told NBC News in a voice note, with the distinct buzz of an Israeli drone discernable in the background.
‘Crammed’ into southern Gaza
Israel had previously told Palestinians to leave northern Gaza, the focus of its initial military campaign, fueling an exodus of displaced residents now packed into the south of the enclave. But on Friday it dropped new leaflets on Khan Younis, warning residents that it had now become a combat zone and telling them to relocate again to the southern city of Rafah, on the border with Egypt.
The IDF also published an online interactive map, dividing Gaza into hundreds of zones that it said would be used to warn residents where the fighting would be centered.
Ghalayini, who received one of the leaflets, voiced the common Palestinian belief that this was part of a broader plan to get them to leave Gaza so Israelis can resettle there. Although a few politicians have voiced support for resettlement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel is trying to remove Hamas and does not seek to govern or occupy Gaza.
“One fear is that, when crammed into a smaller area, people will breakout through the border and Egypt may have no choice” but to accept them, he said.