Israel Orders Half of Gaza to Leave Homes

Hamas tells residents to ignore evacuation order for northern half of territory
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 13, 2023 4:31 AM CDT
Israel Orders Half of Gaza to Leave Homes
Palestinians evacuate wounded after an Israeli airstrike in Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, Thursday, Oct. 12, 2023.   (AP Photo/Hatem Ali)

The United Nations says Israel has told all civilians in the northern half of Gaza to evacuate to the southern half of the territory within 24 hours, an unprecedented order applying to around 1.1 million people ahead of an expected ground offensive. "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 military said, per Reuters. The UN "considers it impossible for such a movement to take place without devastating humanitarian consequences," spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said,

Dujarric said the UN has urged Israel to rescind the order, "avoiding what could transform what is already a tragedy into a calamitous situation," the AP reports. Hamas described the order as "psychological warfare" and told residents to ignore it. The group also said 13 hostages, including foreigners, had been killed by Israeli airstrikes in the last 24 hours. The Israeli military said it needs to target Hamas infrastructure and residents will be allowed to return when the war is over. "The responsibility for what may happen to those who do not evacuate is on Hamas' head," said IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, per the Times of Israel. He declined to comment on claims hostages had been killed.

The director of Gaza's largest hospital said it will not be evacuated, the New York Times reports. "Where will take them? We have nowhere to transport the patients to," said the director of Al Shifa Hospital, Dr. Muhammad Abu Salima. BBC correspondent Lyse Doucet says Israel is targeting Hamas' underground tunnels, which would mean destroying residential areas above ground, but residents fear that if they leave, they will never be allowed to return. "It's not even possible to move more than 1 million people in a day: roads are broken; bombs are falling; homes are destroyed; the elderly and the ill need help," she says. (More Israel-Hamas war stories.)

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