UN Expresses Grave Concern as Israeli Military Urges Evacuation of 1 Million Palestinians in Northern Gaza
In a tense escalation of the Israel-Hamas conflict, the Israeli Ministry of Defense and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) issued a dramatic late-night notification to the United Nations and the residents of northern Gaza. The directive urged Palestinians living north of Wadi Gaza to evacuate to the southern part of the Gaza Strip within the next 24 hours. The move, which affects more than 1 million Palestinians, has raised concerns that the Israeli military may be preparing for an imminent ground operation.
The IDF emphasized that this notification was intended to ensure the safety of civilians by preventing them from getting caught in military operations. This development comes as the ongoing conflict has inflicted severe casualties and displaced hundreds of thousands.
Since the start of the latest round of hostilities between Israel and Hamas, the toll has been devastating, with over 1,530 Palestinians and 1,200 Israelis killed. Thousands more have been injured, and hundreds of thousands have been forced from their homes. Additionally, Hamas has taken around 150 hostages within Gaza and imposed a "complete siege" on the enclave, home to over 2 million Palestinians.
The IDF released a statement addressed to Gaza City residents, instructing them to evacuate to the south of Wadi Gaza. The Israeli military declared its intention to maintain significant operations within Gaza City in the coming days, asserting that extensive efforts would be made to prevent civilian casualties. The IDF stated that residents would only be allowed to return to Gaza when an announcement permits them to do so.
In their warning, the IDF also advised civilians to distance themselves from Hamas, accusing the group of using them as human shields. Furthermore, they cautioned residents against approaching the area near the security fence with Israel, asserting that Hamas militants were hiding in tunnels beneath homes, buildings, and within the civilian population.
UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric shared a statement from Gaza, disclosing that UN officials in the region were informed by Israeli military liaison officers about the evacuation order for the entire population living north of Wadi Gaza. This decision impacts approximately 1.1 million people, nearly half of Gaza's 2.3 million population. Areas north of Wadi Gaza include Gaza City, the largest city in the enclave. Dujarric expressed concern over the humanitarian consequences of such a mass movement.
As of the announcement, Israel's military had not provided any further comments. Simultaneously, Israel had deployed tanks near the Gaza border and conducted a series of airstrikes in the region, amplifying an already critical situation.
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