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Israel military orders evacuation of 1.1 million people from Gaza in 24 hours, Hamas refuses ultimatum

Concerns over a possible ground offensive from Israel emerged after military spokesperson Lt. Col. Richard Hecht said forces "are preparing for a ground maneuver" should political leaders order such an operation. Over 1,500 people have been killed in Gaza by Israeli strikes.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Gaza Updated on: October 13, 2023 17:26 IST
At least 423,000 people have been displaced in Gaza
Image Source : AP At least 423,000 people have been displaced in Gaza

The Israeli military has ordered the evacuation of at least 1.1 million people in northern Gaza ahead of a possible ground assault on the territory in retaliation to an unprecedented attack on the Jewish country that has killed hundreds of people, according to the United Nations.

According to a UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric, Israel has directed residents of the Gaza city to flee deeper in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, claiming that Hamas militants were hiding in tunnels under the city. “This evacuation is for your own safety,” the Israeli military said.

Since Israel retaliated with airstrikes to retaliate against the Hamas attack on Saturday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned to "destroy and crush" the militant group. This sparked concerns that Israel would launch a ground assault that is expected to be far bloodier and more destructive than the airstrikes that have killed more than 1,500 Palestinians.

The broad order from the Israeli military also applies to the UN staff and other thousands of people who have taken shelter in UN schools and other facilities since Israel launched retaliatory strikes. "The United Nations considers it impossible for such a movement to take place without devastating humanitarian consequences," Dujarric said on the latest directive.

“The United Nations strongly appeals for any such order, if confirmed, to be rescinded avoiding what could transform what is already a tragedy into a calamitous situation,” the spokesman as humanitarian groups struggled to provide aid to people in the wake of devastating strikes in the war-torn region.

Hamas' response

The Hamas authority for refugee affairs on Friday called on residents of the north of the territory to “remain steadfast in your homes and to stand firm in the face of this disgusting psychological war waged by the occupation.

Meanwhile, Palestinians would only be able to flee south within Gaza — a narrow strip of land about 40 kilometers (25) miles long — as Israel has completely sealed off the territory.

 

Situation in Gaza

After Israel cut off access to electricity, food, fuel and water supply to Gaza as part of its "complete siege", the UN condemned the further tightening of the blockade and said that Gazans have lived "under unlawful blockade for 16 years", CNN reported.

The humanitarian situation has deepened in the Gaza Strip with the UN reporting that over 423,000 out of a population of 2.3 million have been displaced from their homes as airstrikes continued. The population is now at the risk of starvation as fuel, food and water supplies are rapidly diminishing in the war.

The 'complete siege' has been criticised by the European Union as well. Thousands of people injured in the Israeli strikes has pushed the medical infrastructure in the conflict-torn region to a breaking point, according to the spokesperson of the Palestinian Health Ministry.

The Israel-Hamas war

The death toll from Israeli strikes on Gaza rose to 1,537, with 6,612 people wounded, the Gaza-based Health Ministry said Thursday. Of those killed, 500 were under the age of 18, the ministry said. On the other hand, over 1,300 people have died in Israel from the Hamas attack since Saturday morning.

Palestinians said that heavy Israeli airstrikes continued across the Gaza Strip, with bombardment on residential buildings in densely populated city districts and refugee camps. Additionally, Syrian state media reported that Israeli airstrikes on Thursday put two Syrian international airports out of service.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has visited Israel along with a shipment of American weapons and offered strong support to its long-time ally Israel. The United Kingdom has also sent is sending Royal Navy ships and other military assets for their deployment to the eastern Mediterranean to support humanitarian efforts and maritime patrol in the region.

Meanwhile, India launched 'Operation Ajay' to rescue stranded Indian nationals in the war-torn Israel. The first charter flight to facilitate the return of 212 Indian citizens landed at Delhi Airport from Israel's Ben-Gurion airport. Union Minister Rajiv Chandrashekhar welcomed the Indians who were stranded in Israel.

(with agency inputs)

ALSO READ | 'Gaza has right to resist or defend their legitimate cause': Syria and Iran come in support of Palestinians

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