Jerusalem, Oct 14 (EFE).- Israel on Saturday repeated its warning to some 1.1 million residents of northern parts of the Gaza Strip to head south ahead of an expected ground operation by Israeli forces.
Hundreds of thousands of Gazans were moving south toward Khan Younis after Israel first issued the evacuation order early Friday.
In a statement on Saturday, the Israeli Defense Forces Arabic-language spokesperson Avichay Adraee said the IDF would “allow movement on the indicated streets without any harm between the hours of 10 am to 4pm,” urging residents to “take advantage of the short time to move south – from Beit Hanoun to Khan Yunis.
“If you care about yourself and your loved ones, go south as instructed,” the statement said.
Hamas, the Islamist group that governs the Strip, said that people traveling on one of the southbound roads were hit by Israeli shelling, killing some 70 people, most of whom were women and children.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees has condemned Israel’s evacuation orders as “horrendous”, while Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said it would amount to a “second Nakba” – referring to the mass displacement and dispossession of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians during the war unleashed by the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, an event known in Palestine as the “Nakba”, Arabic for “catastrophe”.
Human rights groups have also denounced the order, saying it will exacerbate the humanitarian disaster unfolding in the Gaza Strip.
Israel placed the enclave under siege following the unprecedented attack on Oct. 7 by militants from Hamas which unleashed the current wave of violence.
Over 1,300 people in Israel were killed in the assault, while at least 130 hostages were taken. Rockets have continued to be fired from Gaza into Israel throughout the week.
Israel has warned that the siege won’t be lifted until the hostages are released.
Electricity and water supplies to the enclave have been cut off, with hospitals in Gaza reportedly on the brink of collapse.
In response to last Saturday’s attack by Hamas, Israel has also pounded Gaza with a relentless bombing campaign that has killed over 2,200 people and injured more than 8,700, as well as severely damaging civilian infrastructure.
The director general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said Saturday that a plane loaded with medical supplies for Gaza has landed in Egypt.
“A plane with WHO medical supplies to support the urgent health needs in Gaza has landed in Al Arish, Egypt – close to the Rafah crossing,” Tedros said on X (formerly Twitter).
The WHO director said the aid was ready to be transferred to Gaza once authorities allow access through the Rafah border crossing, the only one between the enclave and Egypt.
According to WHO, the crossing is accessible from Egypt but remains closed on the Palestinian side, preventing both humanitarian aid from entering and people from leaving.
Egyptian authorities have reported in recent days that the vicinity of the Rafah crossing has been shelled by Israel, which has led to operational disruptions at the border crossing that separates the Egyptian Sinai with the Palestinian enclave.
“We continue our plea to Israel to reconsider the decision to evacuate 1.1 million people. It will be a human tragedy,” the WHO director warned. EFE