ITV News footage shows families attempting to escape Gaza an hour before they are hit by airstrike

Dozens of families packed onto trailers, less than an hour before an airstrike hit them. Credit: ITV News

Words by ITV News Producer George Coote. This report contains distressing details

Yesterday, after days of heavy bombardment in North Gaza, airdrops of leaflets fell from the sky.

Printed on them was a clear instruction to the civilian population from the Israeli military: “Evacuate your homes immediately”.

The 1.1 million people in northern Gaza have been told to move south, or risk losing their lives, as well as their homes.

Despite roads strewn with rubble, fuel shortages and instructions from Hamas to ignore Israeli warnings, many thousands of Gazans gathered their loved ones, and whatever they could carry to evacuate to the south.

Israel's military dropped leaflets over Gaza City, telling people to flee into southern Gaza

The ‘Salah al-Deen’ road is a major thoroughfare running length-ways down the middle of the Gaza strip.

It was on this road yesterday evening, that ITV’s cameraman in Gaza- Khaled Abu Sultan, filmed dozens of families packed onto two flatbed trailers, being towed by a white Volvo truck.

Heading South, the refugees sought sanctuary South of the ‘Wadi Gaza’ river- where the IDF had said they’d be safe.

But the truck and its passengers never made it to safety.

Images recorded less than an hour later show the aftermath of an aerial strike, with the truck close to its epicentre.

We can identify the truck by the serial number printed on the side of the cab.

Its passengers are gone. Many of them are dead. Some still lie on the truck’s trailers, others are strewn around on the road.

One woman lies dead, with her arm draped around the body of a child. The bodies of other children lie nearby.

ITV’s cameraman in Gaza- Khaled Abu Sultan filmed dozens of families packed onto two flatbed trailers, but the truck and its passengers never made it to safety

In another video, a man runs past burning cars - he comes across the very same woman and child before arriving at the Volvo truck.

As he runs, his camera-phone pans over the outside of a business - the sign identifies it as ‘Basem Aliwa Iron Traders’,

The location tells us exactly where this tragedy has unfolded: just north of the junction between Salah al-Deen and Gaza’s Number 10 Road, on the southern outskirts of Gaza City.

Images of civilian casualties are not uncommon in this war - but these have been recorded on a road that, just today, an IDF spokesperson indicated would serve as a safe passageway for civilians.

The Israeli authorities stress that they are not deliberately targeting ordinary Gazans, and indeed say that their order to the people of North Gaza to leave their homes is part of a strategy to mitigate and limit civilian deaths.

But Palestinian authorities say that more than 2,000 civilians have been killed.

The United Nations is calling on Israel to change its approach, warning that the forced evacuation of Gaza City risks turning what is “already a tragedy into a calamitous situation.”

Incidents like the strike on Salah Al-Deen yesterday evening can only add to that pressure.

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