Gaza authorities urge people to ignore Israel evacuation order as thousands flee south
Authorities in the besieged Gaza Strip, which is suffering unprecedented and indiscriminate bombardment, have urged residents to ignore an Israeli evacuation order covering the north of the territory, which would see 1.1 million residents move southward prior to an Israeli ground offensive.
In a statement this morning, the Palestinian group Hamas, which has controlled Gaza since 2007. said that "our Palestinian people reject the threat of the occupation [Israeli] leaders and its call for them to leave their homes and flee from them to the south or Egypt,"
Eyad Al-Bozom, a spokesperson for the interior ministry, said that "the 1948 displacement will not happen."
He was referring to the Nakba, which saw 700,000 Palestinians expelled from their homes by Zionist militias at the time of the creation of Israel.
According to Reuters calls to ignore the Israeli orders were reiterated by Gaza's mosques, who also called on residents not to leave their homes.
The UN reported that it had been informed by the Israeli army that it had given an evacuation order with a 24-hour deadline. The Israeli defence minister has said that "those who want to save their life, please go south."
Speaking to reporters, Israeli army spokesperson Daniel Hagari stated that "we understand it won't take 24 hours." He denied commenting if the 24-hour time frame was given.
The Israeli army dropped flyers over Gaza this morning telling people to move to the south.
Despite local authorities calls to ignore the Israeli orders, thousands of Gazans have already fled southwards according to The New Arab's Gaza correspondent, who said that people were worried about the Israeli army's upcoming operation and had only prayer to turn to.
She described how houses in the south were crowded with evacuees, with many more lacking a place to take shelter. Many people also took shelter in schools.
Israeli forces have destroyed at least 752 residential buildings since launching its aggression against the coastal enclave six days ago, while an estimated 89 schools were attacked - nine of which have become no longer operational ⬇ pic.twitter.com/pQXKy2Z0Dc— The New Arab (@The_NewArab) October 12, 2023
Ravina Shamdasani, the spokesperson for the UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights, said "we are calling for a global call, an unequivocal call from every member state in the international community, particularly those with influence, to insist upon full respect for international humanitarian law."
The World Health Organization (WHO) said that health authorities in Gaza informed them that it "is impossible to evacuate vulnerable hospital patients from the north of Gaza" southwards.
WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic said that "there are severely ill people whose injuries mean their only chances of survival is being on life support, such as mechanical ventilators."
"Moving those people is a death sentence. Asking health workers to do so is beyond cruel," he added. The WHO has already warned that hospitals in the Gaza Strip were beyond breaking point.
The Israeli order prompted Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas to state that he "completely rejects the displacement of our people from the Gaza Strip, because it will be tantamount to a second Nakba for our people."
The Arab League described the order as "an atrocious act of revenge… punishing helpless civilians in Gaza." People across the Middle East have taken to protest the evacuation order and in solidarity with Gaza, such as in Jordan's capital Amman and Iraq's capital Baghdad.
Israel and Hamas have been at war since Saturday following a Hamas attack on southern Israel that killed 1,300 people. Israel's retaliatory bombardment and siege of Gaza has killed 1,799 people.
Around 40% of those killed were children. Israel has used an unprecedented amount of explosives, believed to be equivalent of one quarter of an atomic bomb.
(The New Arab Staff, Reuters, AFP)