Israel orders evacuation of 1.1Mn civilians from Gaza within 24 hours
As tensions continued to escalate in the Gaza Strip, Israel's military issued a call for the evacuation of more than one million civilians in Gaza City within 24 hours. The move came as Israel gathered tanks near the Gaza Strip, hinting at a potential ground invasion.
The Israeli Military's Call for Gaza City's Evacuation
Israeli airplanes bombarded Gaza as Defense Minister Yoav Gallant proclaimed, "Now is a time for war," in response to strikes by Hamas terrorists over the weekend that killed more than 1,300 Israelis, the vast majority of whom were civilians.
Military Preparations and Civilian Safety
The Israeli military elaborated that it would conduct significant operations in Gaza City in the days ahead, stating that civilians would only be allowed to return after a subsequent announcement.
It was underlined by the military that the purpose of this evacuation was to protect the lives of civilians, and they urged the villagers to keep their distance from Hamas militants who were supposedly using them as human shields. According to the military, innocent residents of Gaza were unaware that Hamas terrorists were hiding in tunnels under their homes and inside buildings.
Response from Hamas and International Bodies
An official with Hamas referred to the call to evacuate as "fake propaganda" and advised people not to take the warning seriously. The United Nations has raised significant worries about the prospect of such a large-scale exodus of civilians and has warned of the potentially disastrous effects on humanitarian aid.
Israel's ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, criticized the UN's response to the situation, labeling it "shameful."
Israel's Retaliatory Actions
In response to the alleged provocations by Hamas, Israel vowed to annihilate the militant group. The Israeli military reported that it had targeted 750 military sites in northern Gaza during overnight operations. These targets included what Israel claimed to be Hamas tunnels, military compounds, residences of senior operatives, and weapons storage warehouses.
Challenges and Humanitarian Crisis
Despite Israel's military actions, a ground invasion posed a significant risk, particularly as Hamas was reported to be holding scores of hostages taken during the recent assault.
The Gaza Strip, home to 2.3 million people, remained under siege by Israel, with continuous strikes against Hamas targets and a mounting toll of over 1,500 Palestinian casualties since the weekend incursions began.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) reported that the fuel used to power emergency generators in Gaza's hospitals could run out within hours, while the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned that food and fresh water were running dangerously low.
ICRC regional director Fabrizio Carboni decried the suffering caused by the ongoing escalation, imploring the involved parties to take steps to alleviate the misery of civilians.
The United Nations Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) disclosed that it had relocated its central operations center and international staff to southern Gaza in response to the worsening situation.