Emerging from shelters, Gazans hope to return home during temporary truce

Palestinians who had taken refuge in temporary shelters return to their homes in eastern Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip during the first hours of a four-day truce between Israel and Hamas, on November 24, 2023 (MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)
Palestinians who had taken refuge in temporary shelters return to their homes in eastern Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip during the first hours of a four-day truce between Israel and Hamas, on November 24, 2023 (MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)

With children and pets in their arms and their belongings loaded onto donkey carts or car roofs, thousands of displaced Gazans are trying to head home as a four-day Israel-Hamas truce begins.

The din of war has been replaced by the horns of traffic jams and sirens of ambulances making their way through crowds emerging from hospitals where they had taken refuge.

For nearly seven weeks, Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip have been relentless. But on Friday morning, no more shots are heard in Khan Yunis, in the south of the Palestinian territory.

Hayat al-Muammar is among those hurrying to take advantage of the truce deal.

“I’m going home,” says the 50-year-old, who had been sheltering in a school. “We fled the death, destruction and everything.”

Israel has warned that it is not possible for those now in southern Gaza to move to the north, where it remains heavily deployed.

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