The Israeli army has given 1 million Palestinians just 24 hours to evacuate northern Gaza and head to the southern part of the besieged territory ahead of an expected ground offensive.
United Nations spokesperson Stephane Dujarric stated that carrying out the evacuation mentioned would have severe negative impacts on the well-being of the affected people. According to Al Jazeera, he urged Israel to withdraw the orders, emphasising that implementing them could worsen the existing tragedy and lead to a disastrous situation.
Hamas, responsible for the shocking and brutal attack on Israel nearly a week ago and continuous rocket launches, disregarded the proposed evacuation plan as a deceptive tactic. According to AFP News, the group urged Palestinians to remain in their homes, claiming that Israel’s intention was to create confusion and disrupt unity. They advised Palestinians to disregard what they perceived as psychological warfare.
The evacuation order, which covers Gaza City and its large Palestinian population, caused panic among civilians and aid workers. They were already dealing with Israeli airstrikes, a blockade, and a blackout across the territory, adding to the challenges they faced in their attempt to find safety. AFP News quotes a weeping Nebal Farsakh, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Red Crescent in Gaza City, as saying:
"Forget about food, forget about electricity, forget about fuel. The only concern now is just if you’ll make it, if you’re going to live."
The ongoing war has resulted in a significant loss of life, with over 2,800 casualties on both sides and heightened tensions in the region. While there have been concerns about potential escalation with Hezbollah in Lebanon, the situation there remains relatively calm for now.
The Gaza Health Ministry stated that it was not feasible to evacuate the numerous wounded individuals from hospitals due to the already overwhelming number of dead and injured. They emphasized that hospital staff would not abandon the wounded and sick to their fate.
Iran’s foreign minister warned that the war could expand to “other fronts” if the bombing of Gaza persisted.
Meanwhile, the EU’s foreign policy chief held talks with China’s foreign minister, who attributed the Israel-Hamas conflict to a “historical injustice” against Palestinians. He highlighted the delayed realization of Palestinian statehood and the unresolved historical grievances as the root causes of the problem.
The UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, announced that it would not evacuate the schools where many people have sought shelter. However, they did relocate their headquarters to southern Gaza, as confirmed by spokesperson Juliette Touma.
Pressed by reporters on whether the army would protect hospitals, U.N. shelters and other civilian locations, Hagari, the Israeli military spokesperson, warned that “it’s a war zone.”
When questioned on whether the Israeli army would protect hospitals hospitals, UN shelters, and civilian areas, the Israeli military spokesperson, Hagari, warned that “it’s a war zone.” He added:
"If Hamas prevents residents from evacuating, the responsibility lies with them."
Clive Baldwin, a senior legal adviser at Human Rights Watch, criticized the evacuation order in Gaza, stating that it is not effective as there is no safe place for people to go. He highlighted the dire conditions in the area, including damaged roads, scarcity of fuel, and the main hospital being in the evacuation zone. Baldwin urged world leaders to intervene before it’s too late.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has expressed determination to “crush” Hamas, as he faces public pressure to take more decisive action against the group rather than maintaining the status quo.