Israeli army orders entire Gaza City population to evacuate

The Israeli military has ordered all residents of Gaza City to evacuate to the southern central Gaza Strip as operations intensify in the north.

Leaflets dropped from aircraft instructed “everyone in Gaza City” to leave the “dangerous fighting zone” through designated safe routes, shown as two roads leading to the shelters of Deir al-Baraf and Al-Zawayda.

The United Nations expressed deep concern that the evacuation orders had been issued.

Over the past two weeks, Israeli forces have ordered evacuations and re-entered several areas of Gaza City where Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad are believed to have regrouped since the beginning of the year.

Fighting continues as indirect talks between Israel and Hamas to reach a ceasefire and agree to the release of hostages are due to resume in Qatar, with Egyptian, US and Israeli intelligence chiefs expected to attend.

More than 250,000 people are estimated to still live in Gaza City, some of whom were seen fleeing to the south.

But some didn’t want to leave.

“I will not leave Gaza, I will not repeat the stupid mistakes made by others. Israeli missiles do not distinguish between north and south,” Gaza resident Ibrahim al-Barbari, 47, told the BBC.

“If death is my fate or the fate of my children, we will die at home with honour and dignity,” he said.

In a statement early Wednesday, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said its forces “conducted counter-terrorism operations” throughout the night against Hamas and PIJ fighters operating inside the headquarters of the United Nations aid agency for Palestine refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in Gaza City.

The forces opened “designated corridors to facilitate the evacuation of civilians” from the area before entering the building and “eliminated the terrorists in close quarters combat,” it added.

There was no immediate comment from UNRWA.

The IDF also said it had killed dozens of militants and dismantled an underground tunnel route in the Shejaiya neighborhood east of Gaza City over the past day.

Defence Minister Yoav Gallant told the Israeli Knesset on Wednesday that 60 per cent of Hamas fighters had been killed or wounded since the Israeli offensive began, a figure the BBC could not independently verify.

On Tuesday, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights “I was surprised,” he said. The Israel Defense Forces ordered residents to evacuate “areas where Israeli military operations are ongoing and civilians are continuing to be killed and injured.”

They also warned that delivery areas were already severely overcrowded with Palestinians fleeing from other parts of Gaza, with little infrastructure and limited access to humanitarian aid.

The Israeli military launched an operation to destroy Hamas in Gaza following an unprecedented attack in southern Israel on October 7 that left some 1,200 people dead and 251 taken hostage.

Since then, more than 38,295 people have been killed in the Gaza Strip, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Strip Health Ministry.


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