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Israel warns north Gaza to evacuate as likely ground assault looms

On Friday, deaths from continued airstrikes punctuated evacuation efforts. The U.N. warned the hasty evacuation could turn "calamitous."
Israel warns north Gaza to evacuate, a task the UN calls 'impossible'
Posted at 7:00 AM, Oct 13, 2023

The Israel Defense Forces is urging residents of northern Gaza to flee, an indication that the Israeli military could soon be starting its ground invasion of the Palestinian-held region.

Nearly 1.1 million residents of Gaza are included in the evacuation notice, according to the United Nations. 

"Gaza City is an area where military operations are taking place. This evacuation is for your own safety. You will be able to return to Gaza City only when another announcement permitting it, is made," said IDF spokesperson Jonathan Conricus.

Currently, 423,000 Palestinians are displaced, and no supplies have been allowed into Gaza since the airstrikes began.

While Israel appears to be on the cusp of a ground offensive into Gaza, the Jewish nation has continued to attack Hamas by air. Israel Defense Forces said it launched hundreds of air raids overnight, striking 750 Hamas targets.

The IDF warning comes nearly a week after Hamas launched an attack on Israel. The Israeli government reports that 1,300 Israelis have died. The Palestinian-run Gaza Health Ministry says that there have been 1,537 Palestinians killed during the conflict.

On Friday, the Hamas press office said 70 people, mostly women and children, had been killed in Israeli airstrikes targeting convoys that were leaving Gaza City.

A source told Scripps News an American intelligence report last month warned that a Hamas assault against Israel was growing more likely — but it didn't expect an attack would come for another six months or so.

The Associated Press reports an Israeli strike killed one journalist and injured six others near Israel's border with Lebanon. Al-Jazeera said two of its journalists were among the wounded.

U.S. President Joe Biden addressed the evacuations Friday, saying his administration is working with Israel and other regional governments to address the growing humanitarian crisis.

"We can’t lose sight of the fact that the overwhelming majority of Palestinians had nothing to do with Hamas. And they’re suffering as a result as well," President Biden said.

President Biden also said Friday he had spoken with families of Americans who were still unaccounted for since the violence broke out. He said the U.S. will do everything possible to secure their return.

SEE MORE: UN diplomats are calling for peace in Gaza conflict

The IDF said it was urging residents of Gaza City to move to the south "for their own safety and protection." The Israeli military says residents should move at least four miles to the south of Gaza City, south of Wada Gaza.

"Hamas terrorists are hiding in Gaza City inside tunnels underneath houses and inside buildings populated with innocent Gazan civilians," the IDF said.

The UN said it's impossible for civilians to evacuate so quickly.

"The United Nations considers it impossible for such a movement to take place without devastating humanitarian consequences," a statement read. "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."

The U.S. has offered its support for Israel. Both Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin are in Israel on Friday.

Senate Majority Chuck Schumer, who is Jewish, will lead a bipartisan delegation from Congress to Israel on the weekend, his office said Friday. The group will discuss with Israeli officials "what resources the United States can provide to support Israel on all fronts."

Both Hamas' attack on Israel and Israel's retaliation to the attacks have come under scrutiny by international groups, including the United Nations. Doctors Without Borders expressed concern on Thursday for Israel conducting "collective punishment" against Palestinians.

"Millions of men, women, and children in Gaza are facing collective punishment in the form of total siege, indiscriminate bombing, and the pending threat of a ground battle," said Dr. Christos Christou, president of Doctors Without Borders. "Safe spaces must be established, and humanitarian supplies must be allowed into the enclave. The wounded and sick must receive medical care. Medical facilities and personnel must be protected and respected; hospitals and ambulances are not targets."

The Israeli military has claimed that Hamas fighters share civilian facilities. Because of that, the IDF has claimed that locations potentially containing civilians are legitimate military targets.

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