Israeli snipers reportedly attacked civilians fleeing Gaza | News on the Israel-Palestine conflict

Israeli snipers reportedly attacked civilians fleeing Gaza | News on the Israel-Palestine conflict

Palestinians who fled Gaza City following Israel’s evacuation order say snipers shot civilians near Yarmouk Stadium.

Several civilians in Gaza City said people were shot dead by snipers after the Israeli military issued a new evacuation order and urged Palestinians to move south as it intensified its offensive in the enclave.

The attacks reportedly came as civilians were evacuating several neighborhoods in Gaza City after being ordered to leave on Wednesday, even as mediators from Qatar, the United States and Egypt met with Israeli officials in Doha for ceasefire talks.

One man told Al Jazeera he was sitting near Yarmouk Stadium and saw an Israeli sniper shoot a man on a bicycle carrying canned goods. “The sniper shot directly at him,” he said.

“We couldn’t move his body. Even the paramedics couldn’t reach the street. They couldn’t recover or evacuate this person’s body.”

Rescue personnel who had to turn back reportedly told the man that they had not received instructions to recover bodies and had been warned that anyone approaching the dead man would be shot.

One woman told Al Jazeera that she wanted to walk through Yarmouk Stadium but was told that the streets were littered with the bodies of Palestinians who had been shot by Israeli snipers.

“We came to ask the paramedics and firefighters for help to at least remove the bodies so that they are not left lying on the street,” she said. “They need to be buried.”

Several people said they saw a man on the street being shot in the head by a sniper who was aiming from a tower. Several people later managed to recover his body.

“This person was walking peacefully and then a bullet was shot in his head. We went down and brought him here,” one man said.

Reporting from the Shujayea neighborhood, where the Israeli military has intensified its attacks over the past two weeks, Al Jazeera’s Ibrahim Al Khalili said Israeli forces had left a trail of devastation after withdrawing from parts of the area.

“Many residents are in shock and can hardly comprehend the extent of the destruction,” he said, adding that there were numerous civilian casualties.

“The hospitals and clinics are overcrowded with the injured, many of whom urgently need medical help,” he reported. Thousands of residents had to leave their homes.

The buildings that are still standing are structurally damaged, with “significant damage to roofs, walls and foundations,” he said. Basic services such as water, electricity and sewage are “severely affected.”

The Israeli army has repeatedly ordered hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to leave areas in the north and south of the Gaza Strip that it had previously declared safe.

On Wednesday, the organization dropped leaflets addressed to “every person in Gaza City” warning people not to leave the “dangerous combat zone.” Just days earlier, it had ordered the evacuation of the Daraj, Tuffah and Old City neighborhoods.

B’Tselem, the Israeli information center for human rights in the occupied territories, described Israel’s order to evacuate the entire population of Gaza city as “absolute madness”.

A social media post on Wednesday said the international community must now intervene and “demand that Israel end the war immediately.”

Talks on a ceasefire and the exchange of prisoners held in the Gaza Strip for Palestinians imprisoned in Israeli prisons took place in the Qatari capital on Thursday.

Tamer Qarmout, assistant professor of public policy at the Doha Institute of Graduate Studies, said he remained “quite pessimistic” after “previous rounds of negotiations failed miserably.”

He told Al Jazeera that these talks would be the last push by US President Joe Biden’s administration, after which “Americans would be busy with their elections and the Gaza war would be a secondary or third priority for them.”