The Israel Defense Forces on Friday warned civilians in the northern Gaza Strip to evacuate their homes, as it appeared set to intensify its attacks on terrorist targets in the Gaza City region and possibly launch a ground invasion in response to Hamas’s deadly onslaught against southern communities.
The order came as morning broke on the seventh day of the Israel-Gaza war, with the military pressing its widespread air offensive and a total siege on the Strip, which according to international aid organizations has left it on the edge of a humanitarian disaster.
According to the UN, 340,000 Gazans have been displaced since Israel began its campaign, prompted by Hamas-led terrorists rampaging through southern communities in a massacre that has left over 1,300 Israelis dead, with another 150-200 estimated to have been abducted to the Strip.
Gazan terrorists cut back on rocket fire overnight, with the military’s Home Front Command saying the relatively slow rate of rocket attacks from the Strip indicated Hamas was preparing itself for an extended fight.
At the same time, the terror group issued a call for a “day of rage” in the West Bank as well as by supporters worldwide, and fears were high for attempted attacks on Jews and Israelis.
IDF orders evacuation of northern Gaza
In its statement Friday, the IDF said it “calls for the evacuation of all civilians of Gaza City from their homes southwards for their own safety and protection, and to move to the area south of Wadi Gaza, as shown on the map.”
“Hamas terrorists are hiding in Gaza City inside tunnels underneath houses and inside buildings populated with innocent Gazan civilians,” it said, urging residents to distance themselves from terrorists “who are using you as human shields.”
In response, Hamas told residents to stay in their homes: “Do not follow the propaganda evacuation instructions.” The group is known to try and force residents to ignore such notices given by the military.
Meanwhile, the United Nations called for the order to be withdrawn, asserting that the IDF had given 24 hours for the evacuation, saying that evacuating 1.1 million people would be impossible.
“The United Nations considers it impossible for such a movement to take place without devastating humanitarian consequences,” it said in a statement. “The United Nations strongly appeals for any such order, if confirmed, to be rescinded avoiding what could transform what is already a tragedy into a calamitous situation.”