Israel Allows 6-Hour Escape Window as Troops Near Gaza Border

Israel Allows 6-Hour Escape Window as Troops Near Gaza Border

The Israeli military has declared a six-hour window for Palestinians in Gaza to move south along specified routes as part of a stark evacuation order in anticipation of a potential Israeli ground assault.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) issued this order to over 1 million residents in northern Gaza amid troop mobilization, military equipment deployment, and continued airstrikes in response to attacks by Hamas on October 7.

Israel Allows 6-Hour Escape Window as Troops Near Gaza Border
Israel Allows 6-Hour Escape Window as Troops Near Gaza Border

This evacuation order has faced criticism from rights groups, including the head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), who warned of “catastrophic humanitarian consequences.”

The IDF announced that people can travel south for their safety from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. local time. The communication has raised concerns due to the current electricity and internet blackout.

While the IDF claims to have informed Gaza’s residents through leaflets, some on the ground, including a United Nations Relief and Works Agency school official, a paramedic, and a journalist, were unaware of this advisory.

Images from Gaza show a rush of civilians heading south, either by vehicle or on foot. Some have chosen to remain in place, feeling nowhere is safe.

Since the evacuation order, Israeli airstrikes have resulted in casualties among evacuees, with Hamas reporting 70 deaths and 200 injuries. This comes a week after Hamas’ attack on Israel, which led to numerous casualties and hostages.

As the siege on Gaza intensifies, international observers warn of severe consequences for civilians. Gaza’s residents are suffering due to food, water, and fuel shortages, and the death toll continues to rise.

An overwhelmed Gaza hospital is using ice cream trucks as makeshift morgues. Dr. Yasser Khatab, a forensic pathologist, stated that the hospital is unable to accommodate the increasing number of deceased.

Israel has amassed troops and equipment at the border, but the nature and timing of its planned operation remain uncertain.

UN officials were initially given a 24-hour window for the relocation of Gaza residents, but Israel has since acknowledged that the mass migration order may take longer to execute.

The IDF claims that Hamas is attempting to prevent Palestinian civilians from evacuating.

Furthermore, the IDF reported striking operational headquarters used by Hamas militants, killing a key figure responsible for directing last week’s attack on Israel.

The international community has expressed alarm over the IDF’s order, especially as critical supplies dwindle and casualties rise in the isolated enclave, which has been under an Israeli blockade since 2007.

The World Food Programme distributed food to shelter residents in Gaza, but warned of dwindling humanitarian supplies. Access to water in the strip has become severely limited, with concerns about waterborne diseases emerging.

Israel’s ambassador to the UN defended the government’s actions, stating that they aim to minimize civilian casualties and accusing the UN of hindering Israel’s self-defense efforts.

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