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Thursday, July 11, 2024

IDF instructs ‘everyone’ in Gaza City to leave

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The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has instructed all remaining residents of Gaza City to flee south towards Deir al-Balah. The call on Wednesday came as the Israeli military intensified combat operations in the Palestinian enclave, including a raid on a UN refugee agency compound that it said was being used by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad fighters.

The IDF has issued several evacuation warnings in Gaza City in the past few days, as Israeli troops carried out operations in its western, southern, and eastern neighborhoods, according to the Times of Israel. Around 200,000 Palestinians remain in the northern part of the enclave, the newspaper said, quoting IDF estimates.

Read more: Israeli strikes hit UN agency’s building in Gaza City

Israeli planes have dropped leaflets, urging “everyone in Gaza City” to leave because the area “will be a dangerous combat zone.” The flyers outlined two “safe routes” for evacuation and an instruction to head south.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) warned that the latest set of Israeli evacuation orders will exacerbate the already dire situation in Gaza, where the vast majority of the population has been displaced since the start of the war in October. The directive “will only fuel mass suffering for Palestinian families, many of whom have been displaced again and again,” the agency said. It warned that the repeated displacement of Palestinians makes the work of relief groups more difficult because they are forced to “reset their aid operations over and over again.”

“Aid workers are responding but what they can deliver falls far short of the needs,” UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory Muhannad Hadi wrote on X (formerly Twitter) on Wednesday after a trip to Gaza.

Read more: Gaza Faces Catastrophic Hunger Amid Israeli Offensive, Says UN WFP

During the early stages of the invasion of Gaza, Israel told Palestinians to evacuate from the northern part of the enclave. As the IDF expanded its raids, the army instructed people to leave certain southern areas as well, including eastern Khan Younis and Rafah, a city near the Egyptian border that has become a giant refugee camp.

The IDF said it is continuing a “targeted, intelligence-based operational activity” in Rafah and elsewhere. The army has repeatedly stated that it will fulfill its mission to neutralize Hamas and aligned Islamist groups in Gaza and free remaining Israeli hostages.

Addressing the Knesset on Wednesday, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said the IDF’s actions have “led to the elimination of over 14,000 terrorists and the collapse of the military frameworks of Hamas.”