On Friday, Israel warned some 1.1 million people living in Northern Gaza to relocate south, as analysts expect a mass ground invasion in the war declared against Hamas.
“Civilians of Gaza City, evacuate south for your own safety and the safety of your families and distance yourself from Hamas terrorists who are using you as human shields,” the Israeli Defense Forces said in a statement.
It is estimated that some three hundred thousand IDF reservists have amassed near the border.
The Israeli military has been dropping leaflets from the skies above Gaza City. The flyers warn residents to flee “immediately” to south Gaza.
The area of the Gaza Strip where Israel has ordered an evacuation within twenty-four hours covers around a third of the territory, the BBC reports. The order includes the whole of Gaza City and two major refugee camps, Jabalya and Beach Camp. It also includes the towns of Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahia, which are both adjacent to the main Erez crossing point at the northern end of the Strip.
Taken together, this represents one of the most densely populated parts of the Gaza Strip.
Gaza now pic.twitter.com/tTwkMvyQQY
— Aya Isleem 🇵🇸 #Gaza (@AyaIsleemEn) October 13, 2023
The United Nations on Thursday said it was informed by their liaison officers in the Israeli military that “the entire population of Gaza north of Wadi Gaza should relocate to southern Gaza within the next 24 hours.”
However, Israel has since said that the mass migration order will take more time. IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Peter Lerner told CNN that the deadline “may slip.” While the timing is uncertain, the UN said it is clear that civilians cannot evacuate “without devastating humanitarian consequences.”
Gaza crisis deepening following Israel’s seize
Gaza’s humanitarian crisis is deepening, with warnings that people are at risk of starvation after Israel ordered a “complete siege” of the blockade in response to Hamas attacks. Israeli airstrikes have displaced 423,000 people, the UN said.
The UN’s regional agency warned that Gaza is becoming a “hell hole on the brink of collapse” and described Israel’s relocation order as “horrendous.”
Israel’s Energy Minister Israel Katz said on Thursday that the siege of Gaza will not end until Israeli hostages are released.
In a social media post, Israel Katz said no “electrical switch will be turned on, no water hydrant will be opened and no fuel truck will enter” until the “abductees” are free.
“Humanitarianism for humanitarianism. And no one will preach us morality,” he added.
Hamas claimed that thirteen Israeli hostages held in Gaza have been killed by “random” Israeli bombings on parts of Gaza over the past twenty-four hours.
The IDF said it could not confirm or deny the claim. Hamas said six of the thirteen were killed in the north of Gaza and seven were killed elsewhere in the strip.
The militant group captured as many as 150 people during its attack on Southern Israel last weekend, and are holding them hostage in Gaza, according to Israeli authorities.