Israeli military orders Palestinians to evacuate northern Gaza

Palestinians move in any possible as they are displaced from their homes as a result of Israeli raids on Friday. The Israeli military ordered citizens of northern Gaza to evacuate to the southern half of the Palestinian enclave, sparking concern from the United Nations who warned it may worsen the humanitarian situation.
Photo by Ismael Mohamad/UPI
Palestinians move in any possible as they are displaced from their homes as a result of Israeli raids on Friday. The Israeli military ordered citizens of northern Gaza to evacuate to the southern half of the Palestinian enclave, sparking concern from the United Nations who warned it may worsen the humanitarian situation. Photo by Ismael Mohamad/UPI

Oct. 13 (UPI) -- The Israeli military early Friday ordered citizens of northern Gaza to evacuate to the southern half of the Palestinian enclave, sparking concern from the United Nations who warned it may worsen the humanitarian situation.

The order is seen as preparations for a potential ground invasion, and Hamas has called on Gazans to stay where they are and resist Israel's "psychological warfare."

The order was given at the start of the seventh day of Israel's war with Hamas -- a war waged by Israel after the militant group attacked it Saturday, besieging border kibbutz communities, killing hundreds of residents and kidnapping more than 100 hostages.

Israel was taken by surprise by the multi-pronged land, air and sea attack, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to "crush and eliminate" Hamas.

Since then, Israeli warplanes have incessantly bombed the strip of land in southern Israel, home to some 2.3 million Palestinians and which Hamas has essentially controlled for the last 16 years.

Palestinians move gather as they face being displaced from their homes as a result of Israeli raids on Friday. Photo by Ismael Mohamad/UPI
Palestinians move gather as they face being displaced from their homes as a result of Israeli raids on Friday. Photo by Ismael Mohamad/UPI

The bombing has displaced tens of thousands daily, with the United Nations' humanitarian office reporting late Thursday that more than 423,000 have been forced from their homes in Gaza by the war.

Now, 1.1 million in Gaza City, the most populous region of the strip, were being ordered to move south of the Wadi Gaza river.

With Israeli warplanes incessantly bombing Gaza, its citizens find themselves having to flee their homes in any way possible. The bombing has displaced tens of thousands daily. Photo by Ismael Mohamad/UPI
With Israeli warplanes incessantly bombing Gaza, its citizens find themselves having to flee their homes in any way possible. The bombing has displaced tens of thousands daily. Photo by Ismael Mohamad/UPI

"Hamas terrorists are hiding in Gaza City inside tunnels underneath houses and inside buildings populated with innocent Gazan civilians. Civilians of Gaza City, evacuate south for your own safety and the safety of your families and distance yourself from Hamas terrorists who are using you as human shields. In the following days, the IDF will continue to operate significantly in Gaza City and make extensive efforts to avoid harming civilians," the IDF said in the statement.

"This evacuation is for your personal safety."

The Israeli military has ordered evacuation of Gaza City. Photo by Ismael Mohamad/UPI
The Israeli military has ordered evacuation of Gaza City. Photo by Ismael Mohamad/UPI

IDF spokesman Jonathan Conricus described the evacuation order in an early morning update on the war as a "humanitarian step the IDF is taking to minimize civilian causalities."

The message was transmitted in Arabic to those of the city and informed them they would be permitted by the IDF to return at a later date.

Israeli border police patrol in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem on the first Friday prayers at the Al Aqsa Mosque since Hamas massacred 1,300 Israelis, on Friday, October 13, 2023. Hamas called a 'Day of Rage' across the world for Friday. Photo by Debbie Hill/ UPI
Israeli border police patrol in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem on the first Friday prayers at the Al Aqsa Mosque since Hamas massacred 1,300 Israelis, on Friday, October 13, 2023. Hamas called a 'Day of Rage' across the world for Friday. Photo by Debbie Hill/ UPI

Hamas, in a statement, responded by calling Israel "delusional" if it thought its "psychological warfare could affect our heroic Palestinian people," while ordering Gazans to "reject the threat of the occupation leaders and their calls on those in Gaza to leave their homes."

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told Axios that the intergovernmental organization was informed of the order before midnight, stating the Palestinians in Gaza City had 24 hours to make it south.

He said the U.N. "strongly appeals" for Israel to rescind the order to avoid transforming "what is already a tragedy into a calamitous situation."

"The United Nations considers it impossible for such a movement to take place without devastating humanitarian consequences," he said, adding that the order also applied to all U.N. staff and displaced people sheltered at U.N. facilities.

"They must be protected at all times and must never come under attack in accordance with international humanitarian law," the U.N. said in a statement.

The U.N.'s agency for Palestinian refugees said it has already relocated its central operations center and international staff south to continue its humanitarian operations while demanding that Israel protect all civilians sheltering at its facilities.

A panel of U.N. independent experts on Thursday had already voiced displeasure with Israel, condemning what it called "violent and indiscriminate attacks" against Palestinians.

"They have lived under unlawful blockade for 16 years, and already gone through five major brutal wars, which remain unaccounted for," the experts said in a statement.

"This amounts to collective punishment."

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also called on Israel to reverse its order, while warning that Gaza's hospitals were at a breaking point.

"Without immediate entry of aid, essential healthcare services will come to a halt," he said.

UPI has contacted the WHO for further comment.

Gilad Erdan, Israel's ambassador to the U.N., described the U.N.'s response to the evacuation order as a "shame," accusing it of "turning a blind eye" to Hamas' activities.

"Instead of standing by Israel after the massacre by Hamas, they dare to preach to us when Israel tries to minimize harm to civilians," he said in a statement. "Right now, the only thing the U.N. should focus on is the return of the abductees to Israel."

The announcement comes as more than 300,000 Israeli reservists have been called up since Saturday and a military buildup at the Gaza perimeter is ongoing.

Overnight, Israeli warplanes struck another 750 targets in Gaza, with the IDF listing Hamas tunnels, military compounds, residences of senior operatives, warehouses and more as having been destroyed.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health late Thursday increased Gaza's death toll to 1,537, including 500 children, with another more than 6,600 wounded.

ABC reports that a Palestinian government press office says a convoy of civilians fleeing northern Gaza for southern Gaza was stuck by Israel, killing 70 of the civilians.

Reuters confirmed Friday that videographer Issam Abdullah was killed while working in Southern Lebanon near the border with Israel.

Additionally, the Israeli military says it is striking targets in Lebanon.

"An IDF UAV is currently striking terrorist targets belonging to Hezbollah in Lebanon," the Israeli Defense Forces posted to X Friday.

Israel's death toll continues to rise as more bodies are found from Saturday's attack.

Conricus early Friday said 1,300 Israelis had been killed with 3,000 more injured.