A view shows houses and buildings destroyed by Israeli strikes in Gaza City, October 10, 2023. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
  • All residents of Gaza City may be forced to relocate, according to the UN

TEL AVIV (Agencies): The Israeli military has urged over 1 million people to leave their homes in Gaza City and urgently move south. The UN has warned of “devastating humanitarian consequences.”

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) issued the evacuation order, calling it a “humanitarian step.” It did not mention any specific deadline, with a spokesperson acknowledging it would take “some time.”

“The IDF calls on all residents of Gaza City to evacuate their homes, move south for their protection and settle in the area south of the Gaza River,” the military said in a post on X. “This evacuation is for your personal safety. It will be possible to return to Gaza City only after a notification confirming this.”

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 vowed to “continue to operate significantly in Gaza City in the coming days” and has urged civilians to “distance yourself from the Hamas terrorists who use you as a human shield.”

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“The United Nations strongly appeals for any such order, if confirmed, to be rescinded avoiding what could transform what is already a tragedy into a calamitous situation,” Dujarric added.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 423,378, or roughly 21% of the entire population of Gaza, according to the latest flash update by the OCHA. About two-thirds of the internally displaced persons are taking shelter in facilities operated by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).

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