Israel has warned the population of the northern Gaza Strip to leave their homes and head towards the south of the territory in a 24 hour window, in the face of the imminent Israeli ground invasion. The notice covers about half of the territory, where 40% of its population resides, some 1,190,000 Palestinians. This warning has caused fear and confusion to thousands of Palestinians, who do not have the means to move so quickly to an uncertain place, especially after Israel cut off days ago, the supply of water, electricity and gasoline to Gaza. Images on social media showed thousands of Palestinians fleeing in their vehicles or on horseback, while others moved slowly on foot with few belongings. The UN has warned that it is “impossible for the relocation to take place without devastating humanitarian consequences“. The spokesperson for the organizationStéphane Dujarrichas asked Israel to withdraw the order to avoid turning “a calamitous situation into a tragedy.”
Israel wants to empty the north of the Strip to the Gaza River, which crosses the Strip horizontally, establishing a natural boundary of land. The exodus would imply that 2.3 million Palestinians have to crowd into about 150 square kilometers. In the north of Gaza there are refugee camps and many hospitals with dozens of civilians admitted who are very difficult to move in such a short period of time. The displacement is occurring while Israel continues to hit neighborhoods throughout southern Gaza. In the last seven days at least 423,000 people, one in five Gazans, have been forced to leave their homes by Israeli airstrikes, the UN said Thursday. “We are talking about half the population (of Gaza) moving to live in half the space they used to live in,” the organization said. The UN compared and called the Israeli order “second Nakba”, in reference to the massive displacement of Palestinians in the 1948 war, in which Israel began to form and occupy Palestinian territories. However, in the flight from the Nakba the number of people affected was lower, around 750,000 Palestinians. “Forget about food, forget about electricity, forget about fuel, the only concern now is if you can survive, if you are going to live,” he said. Nebal Farsakhspokesperson for the Palestinian Red Crescent, in statements to the Al Jazeera network.
Israel warned the population of Gaza throwing leaflets from various planes. Many civilians learned of the order in the morning, when between six and eight hours of the 24 hours of time that Israel had given them had already passed. The Israeli Army assures that the evacuation is for its own “security” as it plans to “operate significantly in Gaza City in the coming days.” “You will only be able to return to Gaza City when another announcement is made allowing it. Do not approach the area of the security fence with the State of Israel,” the note warns.
The Hamas group, which controls the Gaza Strip, said it was a false announcement to “spread propaganda, with the aim of sowing confusion among citizens and damaging our internal cohesion.” “(There are) Two options: defeat this occupation or die in our homes,” said the organization’s Foreign Minister, Basem Naim. “We are not going to leave. We are not prepared to repeat another Nakba,” she added, alluding to the expulsion of Palestinians after the 1948 war.
The Hamas attack on Israel last Saturday and the Israeli bombing in the Gaza Strip have caused the death of 1,300 people in Israel, among them 247 soldiers, a figure that the country has not suffered in decades. The Israeli attacks have caused the death of 1,530 civilians in Gaza, according to data from the Palestinian Ministry of Health. For its part, Hamas announced that at least 13 Israeli and foreign hostages held by the Palestinian group’s armed wing have been killed in Israeli airstrikes in the last 24 hours. “Thirteen prisoners, including foreigners, died in five Gaza towns attacked by Israeli warplanes,” it said in a statement.