The Israeli army told us to flee south to avoid their airstrikes. Then they bombed us there, too.

Nowhere is safe in Gaza as Israel commits massacres in the areas it designated as “safe zones” for civilians. People fear that Joe Biden’s visit will give Israel the green light to wipe Gaza off the map.

Editor’s note: Due to the wide-ranging power outage in the Gaza Strip, the following report by Mondoweiss Gaza Correspondent Tareq Hajjaj was conveyed to editors via voice note.

The situation in Khan Younis is horrific. Since Israel told the residents of northern Gaza to flee south, people came here thinking it would be a safe haven and that there wouldn’t be anymore more airstrikes, destruction, or targeting of civilians. The opposite has happened. 

The shellings continue. It was a bloody night in Khan Younis yesterday. Indiscriminate bombing. Terrifying noises that we’ve never heard before, not even in Gaza. Every missile made the ground shake and houses tremble.

Up to this moment, people are fleeing to the south from the Zaytoun and Shuja’iyya areas in Gaza City in the north. Entire families carry what belongings they can and even fasten furniture to their cars. They make their way to the city of Khan Younis, to Nuseirat.

In the southern Bureij region — which was designated by the Israeli army as a “safe zone” where civilians were directed to flee — Israel committed a massacre in a school sheltering refugees. In Khan Younis, another family was also targeted by an airstrike, in which 30 people were killed as their house was brought down on top of them. These massacres are being committed on a daily basis. They are targeting civilians directly in their homes, in schools, and in public streets. Since last night and until this afternoon, over 100 people have been martyred in these so-called “safe” areas. The Israeli army tells people to go there and then bombs it. This started on the very first day of the evacuation to the south when a convoy of civilian cars fleeing Gaza City was hit with an airstrike.

The most noticeable thing in Khan Younis is the incredibly long lines outside bakeries and supermarkets. There’s also a food shortage. People are scouring stores for flour, rice, beans, lentils, or anything else they can get their hands on. Few are successful. Merchants say that the shortage is due to the cutting off of supplies from the north, since most of these products are typically brought in from Gaza City. Existing food reserves have already been exhausted. 

All of this is in the middle of a near-total blackout. We’re struggling to charge our devices or find a place with electricity or an internet connection. Before the war, people were already used to partial blackouts and would use car batteries to light their homes at night during scheduled power cuts. But even those batteries have run out. Some have resorted to searching for candles.

Every home in southern Gaza is unbearably overcrowded. There isn’t a house that doesn’t have three or four families staying under its roof. All of them without electricity, batteries, light, or even food. Water is being rationed.

The Gaza Health Ministry has started calling on Gaza residents who may have stockpiled fuel in their homes ahead of the cold winter months to donate it to the Ministry. Hospitals are about to run out of power, and when they do, they’ll be turned into morgues. The hospitals in the so-called “safe zone” in the south are receiving evacuation orders by the Israeli army. The Kuwait Specialized Hospital in Rafah was only given a two-hour notice under threat of bombardment. The hospital staff has refused to leave.

In light of recent news that there is going to be a ground invasion starting Sunday, people in Khan Younis are dreading Biden’s expected visit to Palestine this coming Wednesday. Many think that upon his arrival, he will once again give Israel the green light to wipe Gaza off the map.