Lubna Nazir Shaboo, an Indian woman from Jammu & Kashmir, and her family are waiting for a safe exit from the war-torn Gaza Strip.
New Delhi: An Indian woman and her family living in Gaza have left their home and are waiting for safe passage near the coastal strip’s southern border with Egypt after Israel ordered some 1.1 million Palestinians on Friday to evacuate northern Gaza and head to the southern part of the besieged territory, news agency PTI reported. “I left home early in the morning with my husband and daughter and had to undergo a difficult time to reach the southern side of Gaza near the border. The roads have been all destroyed in Israeli bombings, and even transport is a major issue”, Lubna Nazir Shaboo, an Indian from Jammu & Kashmir living in Gaza, told PTI.
Shaboo is one of the four Indian nationals known to live in Gaza, where Israel has launched a massive military campaign against the Islamist militant group Hamas, which controls the territory since 2007.
Israel unleashes unprecedented offensive on Gaza
Following the brutal attacks by the Hamas militants early on October 7 in the southern areas of the Jewish state, backed by a barrage of rockets that hit even the central parts of the country, Israel vowed an unprecedented offensive against Hamas. Israeli warplanes have since pounded downtown Gaza City, home to Hamas’ centres of government, as well as other targets across the strip.
On the seventh day of the conflict, over 3,000 people were killed on both sides. In Gaza, at least 1,799 people have been killed, according to authorities there. Israel Defence Forces on Friday ordered some 1.1 million Palestinians, roughly half the population of the densely populated territory under Hamas’ control, to evacuate northern Gaza and head to the southern part of the besieged territory.
The move is being seen as a preparation for an imminent massive ground incursion, with Israel drafting an unprecedented number of Israeli reservists.
No way out for Gazans
“We will stay here and see if we can be allowed to move into Egypt, where my two other children also study,” Shaboo said. The only exit route from Gaza, the Rafah crossing with Egypt, was closed down on Monday, practically closing all possibilities of escape for Gazans. UN agencies working in Gaza have warned that the Israeli decision could “prove calamitous” for the civilians trapped in the strip.
Shaboo earlier told PTI that “the sounds of bombardment are too scary, and the whole house shakes. It is a very very scary situation.” Israel has also cut off electricity, water and food supplies to Gaza, strangulating the territory with a population of 2.3 million.
India tries to help its citizens in Gaza
The Indian diplomatic missions in the region are in constant touch with the Indian nationals, and relevant authorities are looking to find a safe passage to get them out of the strife-struck region. “We are in touch and are trying to help all Indians but the situation on the ground constrains our options,” the Representative Office of India in Ramallah earlier told PTI. India has also expressed its concern over the escalating violence in Gaza and called for an immediate cessation of hostilities.