Israel’s military has ordered the evacuation of northern Gaza within 24 hours, according to a UN spokesman. The region is home to 1.1 million people, and the order has been deemed “impossible” without causing devastating humanitarian consequences. While this could indicate an impending ground offensive, the Israeli military has not yet confirmed such plans. The United Nations is seeking clarification from Israeli officials at the highest political level, as the situation is considered unprecedented.
Rumors of the evacuation spread panic among the population of north Gaza early on Friday morning. A ground offensive in the densely populated territory, ruled by Hamas and only 25 miles long, would likely result in higher casualties on both sides, as it would involve brutal house-to-house fighting. The ongoing conflict has already claimed the lives of over 1,300 people in Israel, including 247 soldiers, and more than 1,530 people in Gaza.
Israel claims that approximately 1,500 Hamas militants were killed inside Israel, and that many of the casualties in Gaza are Hamas members. The airstrikes from Israel have been met with thousands of rockets fired by Hamas militants into Israel. Concerns are growing that the fighting could escalate and spread throughout the region, as Israeli airstrikes on Thursday reportedly put two Syrian international airports out of service.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to “crush” Hamas following their attack on the country’s south, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people, including children and young people. The Israeli public is grieving and demanding vengeance, putting pressure on the government to take decisive action against Hamas rather than containing them within Gaza.
The airstrikes by Israel have led to a significant increase in the number of people displaced from their homes. The UN reported that the number of displaced individuals rose by 25% in a day, reaching 423,000 out of a population of 2.3 million. Most of these individuals sought refuge in UN-run schools. The visit of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, along with shipments of US weapons, has been seen as a signal of support for Israel to continue its retaliation against Hamas. However, international aid groups have warned of a worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
Israel has halted the delivery of basic necessities and electricity to Gaza’s population and has prevented supplies from entering through Egypt. Israeli Energy Minister Israel Katz stated on social media that no electricity, water, or fuel will be provided until the Israeli hostages taken by Hamas are returned home.
Overall, the situation in Gaza remains highly volatile, with the threat of a ground offensive looming and the potential for further escalation in the region. The international community is closely monitoring developments and urging for a peaceful resolution to the conflict.