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IDF alleges Hamas actively preventing Palestinians from evacuating Gaza ahead of ground operation

Israel had issued an evacuation order on Friday for 1.1 million people - almost half the population of the entire Gaza Strip - within 24 hours. Hamas told Palestinians to disobey to order and stay put in their homes against Israel's "disgusting psychological warfare".

Aveek Banerjee Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Jerusalem Published on: October 15, 2023 18:35 IST
Israeli tanks approaching the Gaza border.
Image Source : AP Israeli tanks approaching the Gaza border.

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) on Sunday shared a telephonic conversation on social media as proof that Hamas militants are actively preventing Palestinians from evacuating from the Gaza Strip ahead of a possible ground operation, despite a humanitarian corridor set up by Egypt.

In the telephonic conversation with an IDF officer, a resident of Gaza's Jabalya area was heard claiming that Hamas confiscated personal belongings and car keys from people attempting to evacuate from the war-torn region.

This comes after Israel gave an ultimatum for the 1.1 million people in northern Gaza to evacuate within 24 hours, which has sparked a divisive response by some including the European Union (EU), the United Nations (UN) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) owing to the dire health situation in Gaza. 

"The IDF is operating to eliminate Hamas in Gaza. Our war is not with the people of Gaza... We are calling on the residents of Gaza to evacuate southwards for their own safety. Not just because it's international law, because it's our values, our morals, and we demand no less," said Israel Defence Forces (IDF) spokesperson Lt Col Richard Hecht.

The IDF gave a three-hour deadline for Gazans to evacuate, with the assistance of the US. That deadline has now ended and now all eyes are on the Israeli military on whether they would launch a ground offensive that is likely to be more deadlier than the airstrikes.

Earlier, the IDF said that it is completing preparations for a “significant ground operation” in the Gaza Strip, which will include a "joint and coordinated" offensive from air, land and sea, reported The Times of Israel. "Hamas has shown the world time and time again what they are capable of. Now the IDF is prepared to counter with an even greater force. There is no place in the world for terrorism," the IDF said on X.

Humanitarian corridor for Gaza evacuees

After Israel's Friday ultimatum, several countries pressured Egypt to create a 'humanitarian corridor' allowing Palestinians to flee from Gaza. Egypt had earlier pushed back against proposals to establish the corridor from Gaza, saying such a measure would harm the Palestinian cause. It also created blast walls to prevent incursions.

However, an agreement was reached between Egypt, Israel and the United States to allow foreigners residing in Gaza to pass through the Rafah border crossing into the African country. Israel also agreed to refrain from striking areas the foreigners would pass through on their way out of the Hamas-controlled territory.

The agreement has nothing to do with over 120 Israelis being held captive by Hamas militants in Gaza, according to The Times of Israel. Egypt has received crucial humanitarian supplies near the Rafah crossing on Sunday, amid growing calls to open the border to southern Gaza, as per CNN.

Egypt also pledged on Sunday to work with its “international and regional partners in order to reduce the escalation and stop targeting civilians.” 

The week-long war between Israel and Hamas has already claimed over 3,600 lives on both sides and sent tensions soaring across the region. The death toll from Israeli strikes on Gaza rose to 2,329 people have been killed in the territory, including 724 children and 458 women, the Palestinian health ministry said. On the other hand, over 1,300 people have died in Israel from the Hamas attack since last week.

(with agency inputs)


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