Israel’s military, on Friday, October 13, called on all civilians of Gaza City, more than 1 million people, to relocate within 24 hours, as it amassed tanks nearby ahead of an expected ground invasion after an attack by the militant group Hamas.
The Israeli military said it would operate “significantly” in Gaza City in the coming days, adding that civilians should only return when advised.
The military said: “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.
“Hamas terrorists are hiding in Gaza City inside tunnels underneath houses and inside buildings populated with innocent Gazan civilians.”
More than 1,500 Palestinians have already been killed in retaliatory attacks.
“Now is a time for war,” the Defence Minister, Yoav Gallant, said on Thursday as Israeli warplanes continued pounding Gaza in retaliation for the weekend attacks by Hamas militants that killed more than 1,300 Israelis, mostly civilians.
According to Reuters, a Hamas official said the Gaza relocation warning was “fake propaganda” and urged citizens not to fall for it.
The United Nations said it considered it impossible for such a movement of people to take place “without devastating humanitarian consequences”.
Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, described the UN’s response to Israel’s early warning to the residents of Gaza as “shameful”.
Israel has vowed to annihilate the Hamas militant group which led the attacks on Saturday.
The Israeli military said it struck 750 military targets in northern Gaza overnight, including what it said were Hamas tunnels, military compounds, residences of senior operatives, and weapons storage warehouses.
A ground invasion of the narrow and densely populated Gaza Strip, home to 2.3 million people and under siege by Israel, poses serious risk, with Hamas holding scores of hostages kidnapped in the assault.
The UN humanitarian office (OCHA) said more than 400,000 people had fled their homes in Gaza and 23 aid workers had been killed since the start of Israeli retaliatory strikes in response to the deadly Hamas incursion.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said fuel powering emergency generators at hospitals in Gaza could run out within hours and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned food and fresh water were running dangerously low.
“The human misery caused by this escalation is abhorrent, and I implore the sides to reduce the suffering of civilians,” the ICRC regional director, Fabrizio Carboni, said.
The United Nations Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) said it had moved its central operations centre and international staff to Gaza’s south and urged Israeli authorities to protect civilians in its shelters.
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