The Israeli military has allegedly ordered over 1 million people to leave their homes in the northern part of the Gaza Strip and urgently relocate to the south of the enclave, in a move the UN said could cause “devastating humanitarian consequences.”
The UN Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the Department of Safety and Security in Gaza (OCHA oPt) was notified just before midnight local time, that “the entire population of Gaza north of Wadi Gaza should relocate to southern Gaza within the next 24 hours,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement to multiple media outlets on Friday morning.
The IDF and the Israeli Defense ministry have yet to publicly confirm issuing such an evacuation order.
The UN official emphasized that it is “impossible for such a movement to take place without devastating humanitarian consequences.”
- “This amounts to approximately 1.1 million people. The same order applied to all UN staff and those sheltered in UN facilities – including schools, health centers and clinics,” the spokesperson said.
“The United Nations strongly appeals for any such order, if confirmed, to be rescinded avoiding what could transform what is already a tragedy into a calamitous situation,” Dujarric added.
As of Thursday night, the number of people already forced to flee their homes amid the ongoing Israeli airstrikes has increased to some 423,378, or roughly 21% of the entire population of the Gaza Strip, according to the latest flash update by the OCHA. About two thirds of the internally dispaled persons are taking shelter in facilities operated by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).
Hamas militants launched the ‘Al-Aqsa Flood’ raid last Saturday with a barrage of rockets fired from Gaza, before advancing rapidly into Israeli territory, storming multiple towns and villages. Reports of shocking brutality soon followed, with at least 260 Israeli and foreign civilians slaughtered at a music festival and an unknown number captured by the militants.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared a state of war on Sunday, as IDF troops were deployed to clear Israeli towns and villages of Hamas fighters. Israeli planes have conducted constant airstrikes on Gaza ever since.
At least 1,300 Israelis have been killed and more than 3,000 wounded, according to figures released by the Israeli government on Thursday. More than 1,500 Palestinians have been killed and over 6,000 more wounded, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.