Palestinians in the Gaza Strip described hospitals overwhelmed with patients and people attempting to find shelter as well as widespread confusion after being ordered by Israel to evacuate south with nowhere to go.
In video diaries and messages shared with NBC News and on social media, some Palestinians shared their horror, desperation and alarm while living in the middle of the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas.
Israel has been bombing Gaza this week in response to the Hamas terror attacks that killed at least 1,300 people in Israel. The blockade Israel enforced on Gaza for years escalated into a full-scale “siege,” with the country throttling access to food, water, electricity and fuel for Gaza's 2.3 million residents, half of them children. At least 1,900 people have been killed in Gaza in the days since the attacks on Israel.
Salma Shurrab, a 22-year-old dental student living in Gaza City, said many citizens of Gaza are preparing to leave without a place to go.
“No one knows where we’re going but we’re all evacuating,” she said.
As Shurrab spoke, she walked around her home showing suitcases, duffel bags and backpacks full of belongings she and her loved ones plan to take with them.
“All my neighbors have left the neighborhood, no one is left but us and we’re ready to run,” she said. “Where, no one has any idea.”
On Friday, Israel ordered the entire population of northern Gaza to evacuate south, a warning that leaves more than 1 million people to decide whether to abandon their homes. Hamas urged Gazans to ignore the warning.
Mohamed Ziara, a 37-year-old plastic surgeon, said that at Shifa Hospital in Gaza, “we are overloaded with patients, patients are in the corridors, the air we breathe is contaminated with dust.”
Ziara said that as he has been trying to help patients under constant attack from Israeli air strikes, the hospital is working at 10 times capacity.
“The patients are in the corridors, in the streets,” he said, while others were being evacuated because there was no more room.
“Even the air we smell, we breathe is contaminated,” he said. “It is full of dust and bombing ashes.”
Ziara said he was worried about his family and helping them to get somewhere safe after the evacuation order from Israel.
“There is an invasion about to happen after wiping out complete blocks and neighborhoods from the map,” he said.
Sara Al Saqqa, a general surgeon at Al-Shifa Hospital, wrote on a post on Instagram on Thursday that “all the ICU beds are full and we are running out of literally everything.”
“From operation rooms capacity, to medicine and all sorts of medical supplies,” she wrote.
“It’s very bleak. It’s very dark,” she wrote, adding that Israeli air strikes continued to rain down and bombard Gaza.
“The situation is beyond imagination, the amount of children and women who have been displaced from their homes and sought refuge. The hospital corridors are incredible.”
Mazen Saidam, a resident of Gaza City, said he wanted to make a plea to the world: “Rescue Gaza, help Gaza.”
“I don’t know where I can go now,” Mazen Saidam told NBC’s cameraman after Gaza City residents were ordered to evacuate ahead of Israel’s expected ground offensive.
“Now, I am waiting to dead,” he said. “All the people in Gaza, waiting to dead.”
Rahaf Abuzarifa, a 22-year-old computer sciences student at Gaza’s Al-Azhar University, shared a video showing bombed-out buildings, and people pulling suitcases down debris-ridden streets.