But some Gazans who have made or attempted the journey in recent days have described being fired at from the direction of Israeli tanks, despite the promise of safe passage, while others said they had seen bodies, or parts of bodies, scattered around the road. The United Nations is aware of such reports but has not identified who was responsible, said one U.N. official who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter.
Asked about reports of Israeli tanks firing at refugees, the Israeli military said in a statement that it had been targeting Hamas throughout Gaza. It said its attacks on military targets were conducted under international law, including taking “feasible precautions to mitigate civilian casualties.”
On Sunday, Anas Al Kourd, a paramedic at Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, drove south with his cousin, whose legs had been amputated after she was wounded in the war, and others, including four children. Theirs was the only car in sight. Around them, everyone held their hands up in a gesture of surrender as they walked, carrying little but white flags, he said.
As they approached Kuwait Square, a major intersection in Gaza City, they came under fire, forcing them to retreat, he said. Two or three times they tried to move forward, only to have to turn around again because of incoming fire.
When they finally made it to the square, he said, he could see more than 50 Israeli tanks nearby, sitting where an olive grove used to be. He said he waved the blanket covering his cousin in place of a white flag, while some of his companions, who are dual citizens, waved their red German passports.
Mr. Al Kourd had covered about a third of the remaining distance to the middle zone of Gaza, bumping over splintered trees and concrete blocks, when he said they were fired on again. He was driving at “mad speed” to escape, he said, when a missile or bomb from a warplane hit nearby. No one was struck, but their car hit a crater in the road and went flying, he said.
“I don’t know how we survived,” he said a day later, having made it to the middle zone of the Gaza Strip. His account could not be independently confirmed.