ISRAEL + HAMAS

Thousands of Palestinians attempt to return home to northern Gaza, but face Israeli fire

Apr 14, 2024, 2:59 PM

Palestinians displaced by Israel's military offensive head toward north Gaza in an attempt to retur...

Palestinians displaced by Israel's military offensive head toward north Gaza in an attempt to return to their homes on Sunday, April 14. (Ramadan Abed/Reuters via CNN Newsource)

(Ramadan Abed/Reuters via CNN Newsource)

Originally Published: 14 APR 24 16:03 ET

(CNN) — Thousands of Palestinians, including men, women, children and elderly, attempted to return to their homes in northern Gaza on Sunday when they came under Israeli fire.

Video filmed by a CNN stringer shows the once-perilous coastal road of Al Rasheed filled with families walking with their belongings, some riding bicycles, donkey carts and pick-up trucks, smiling and snapping photographs.

“I’m going to Gaza City. It’s enough. We need to go back to our homes and lands. We are tired of displacement… we heard people saying we can go back, but no one official told us. We’ll leave it to God,” Majd El-Aqqad said.

Videos began circulating online Sunday morning showing people heading to the north for the first time in such large numbers. Some people told CNN they heard the Israeli military was allowing women and children to move back up. Others said their relatives were allowed to cross over.

In response to a question from CNN, the IDF said the reports were false.

“The northern Gaza Strip continues to be an active war zone and return to the area is not currently permitted,” IDF said.

In the video shot for CNN, an elderly woman named Um Mohammad walks along the road carrying a heavy bag on her head and two others in her arms, attempting to reach her home.

She cries and prays for God to protect them.

“I don’t know anything about my house. It’s our home and our land. The Israelis displaced us and humiliated us,” she said.

“We are tired here. We have been displaced for 191 days,” Malak Abu Nada, a woman from Jabalya, told CNN.

Many of the people who attempted to head north had been displaced to Rafah, where Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been threatening to launch an offensive that the UN said would lead to a “humanitarian catastrophe.”

The Gaza Ministry of Health reported on Sunday that the toll in the Gaza Strip since October 7 has risen to 33,729 dead and 76,371 people injured.

CNN cannot independently verify these numbers.

A young boy named Omar Al-Dahdouh carried a bag of flour on his shoulder, holding his younger sibling’s hand and sobbing as he walked.

“I am going home. I have been displaced for six months. We live in a tent because our house was struck,” he said.

“I am not afraid. If I must die, I will die, but I don’t want to live this anymore. I want to go home, I’m tired. My siblings need to live,” he continued.

Ahmad Ramadan told CNN he had tried to cross to the north but was turned back by Israeli soldiers because he was a man.

“We heard the road was open to Gaza City, so we thought we’d go. When they saw men with us, they started shooting at us. We are tired and humiliated,” Um Awni Al-Jarousha told CNN.

Footage shows people turning around, heading back south with the sound of drones and planes buzzing overhead. Missiles can be seen in the distance while people run in panic.

“We reached all the way to the checkpoint until we saw Israeli tanks. We headed back because they fired towards us. We didn’t see anyone make it to the other side. We risked our children’s lives to cross, but apparently it was all a lie,” one woman said.

Video shows several people with what appear to be gunshot wounds. One man is seen carrying another man who has blood streaming along his face from a head injury.

Another man is seen carrying a 5-year-old girl named Sally Abu Laila, who is bleeding from her head and surrounded by people trying to help.

Her mother Sabreen told CNN her daughter was in her arms when Israeli soldiers shot at her. They had attempted to cross into the north with Sabreen’s husband, but the soldiers turned him back, leaving her and her four children to face the journey alone.

The moment she tried to pass through, two young men squeezed in between her and other women waiting in line at the checkpoint. That’s when Israeli soldiers fired at them, she said.

Chaos then ensued, with Sabreen describing people trampling over each other as they tried to escape the gunshots.

“I tried to put my daughter on the ground to walk, but she couldn’t move. I saw my hands covered in blood. I called on her, ‘Sally! Sally! Sally!’, but she didn’t answer… I didn’t know my daughter was injured… she is my only girl, and my heart broke,” Sabreen told CNN.

Eventually, she said, she managed to get to Al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital, where her daughter is undergoing treatment. She told CNN she is still in intensive care.

Graphic footage shot for CNN shows Sally crying out in pain, blood on her body with a wound on her head and arm as she gets treated by two doctors.

CNN has reached out to the IDF for comment on reports that its soldiers fired shots at civilians trying to head up north, but has not received a response.

The-CNN-Wire
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Related: PHOTOS: Free Palestine demonstration closes Park City Main St.

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Thousands of Palestinians attempt to return home to northern Gaza, but face Israeli fire