Israel Orders Evacuation Of 1.1m People To Southern Gaza

Palestinians began a mass exo­dus from northern Gaza Friday after Israel’s military told some 1 million people to evacuate to­ward the southern part of the besieged territory, an unprece­dented order ahead of an expect­ed ground invasion against the ruling Hamas militant group.

The U.N. warned that so many people fleeing en masse — almost half the Gaza popu­lation — would be calamitous. Hamas, which staged a shock­ing and brutal attack on Israel nearly a week ago and has fired thousands of rockets since, dis­missed the evacuation order as a ploy and called on people to stay in their homes.

The UN said the order for the mass evacuation was “impossi­ble” without major humani­tarian consequences. Hamas told residents not to leave their homes.

Israeli forces are maintaining their bombardment of Gaza in response to Hamas’ terror at­tacks that killed more than 1,300 people. Israel has also amassed more than 300,000 reservists along its southern border — but has not confirmed whether it is planning an intensified military operation.

Gaza’s humanitarian crisis is deepening with warnings people are at risk of starvation. Nearly 1,800 people have been killed in Gaza, according to the Palestinian health ministry. The airstrikes have also displaced 423,000 people, the UN said.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in Tel Aviv pledged full US support to Israel, stressing, “This is no time for neutrality, or for false equivalence or for excus­es for the inexcusable.”

Meanwhile, the Internation­al Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has raised an alarm over the evacuation order in Gaza, warning of catastrophic humanitarian consequences, the organisation said in a state­ment Friday.

With a military siege in place, humanitarian organisations, including the ICRC, face chal­lenges in assisting the massive displacement of people in Gaza. Their Gaza City office received the same instructions to leave, as did other international organi­sations.

The organisation also high­lighted the need to ensure that basic necessities are provided for displaced populations and to prevent family separations.

A heavily pregnant woman who fled Gaza City on Monday told CNN that she fears for the future as hordes of Gazan civil­ians start making their way to the southern Gaza strip follow­ing Israel’s evacuation order.

Nardeen Fares, who is nine months pregnant, told CNN over the phone that she traveled with her husband from al-Rimal, a neighborhood in Gaza City, to the town of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza strip earlier this week.

“Right now, there is an ex­odus of thousands of people. You’re talking about half of the Gaza Strip moving to Khan You­nis,” the 27-year-old told CNN.

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