Israel called for the evacuation of more than a million citizens from the northern Gaza Strip and mobilized more armed forces around the Strip on Friday, a sign that it may be preparing to escalate the war with Hamas.
The United Nations and international relief and human rights groups described the Israeli directives as impractical or illegal and urged them to cancel the evacuation. United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement that the evacuation cannot take place “without devastating humanitarian consequences,” and “it could turn what is already a tragedy into a catastrophic situation.”
The Israeli military did not back down from the evacuation plan on Friday but softened its stance, suggesting there was no deadline, after initially saying people should leave northern Gaza within 24 hours. “We realize it will take some time,” Admiral Daniel Hagary, the chief military spokesman, told reporters.
In Gaza, already cut off from vital supplies, many people fled with what they could carry, without knowing what conditions awaited them in the south or how long they would be gone. But many others, out of necessity, remained fearful or defiant. Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza and carried out a deadly, large-scale incursion into Israel last weekend, has urged people to stay put, calling the Israeli directives “psychological warfare.”
On both sides, there are widespread expectations of an Israeli ground invasion, after mobilizing 360,000 reserve soldiers and sending many units to the southwestern region adjacent to Gaza. Israel has neither said it would invade the Strip nor ruled it out, but in a statement to Gazans, the Israeli military left no doubt that conditions would worsen.
He added that Israel “will continue to operate with great force in Gaza City and will make intensive efforts to avoid harming civilians.”
Human rights groups and international institutions that condemned Hamas’ attack on Israel also criticized the Israeli response, including evacuation directives, a bombing campaign, a complete blockade that prevented the entry of fuel, water, food and medicine, prevented refugees from leaving, and blocked the road. Electricity service for Gaza residents. Among those killed in the bombing were health care workers, international aid workers and journalists.
“The horrific attacks in Israel cannot justify the unlimited destruction of Gaza,” the International Committee of the Red Cross said in a statement, adding that the call to evacuate northern Gaza violates international law. Another aid organization working in Gaza, the Norwegian Refugee Council, said the eviction amounted to a “war crime of forcible transfer.”
While Israel directed Palestinians to go to southern Gaza, its forces were bombing sites there as well, highlighting the dangers of traveling there. The Gaza Interior Ministry said Israeli air strikes killed at least 70 Palestinians and wounded 200 others as they tried to flee northern Gaza in vehicles on the main highway leading south.
President Biden said that alleviating the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is one of his most important priorities. He did not criticize Israel’s response to Hamas attacks, describing them as “pure evil.”
He said in a speech in Philadelphia: “We cannot ignore the fact that the vast majority of Palestinians have nothing to do with Hamas and these horrific attacks, and that they are suffering as a result of that as well.”
The crisis reverberated far beyond Gaza on Friday, the day a Hamas leader declared a “day of rage” for its supporters around the world. Hundreds of thousands of people marched across the Middle East to express their anger at the Israeli response. Half a million people filled Baghdad’s Tahrir Square and large protests broke out in Beirut and Bahrain.
Ali Hassan (60 years old), who participated in the Bahrain demonstration on Friday, said: “They were exposed to various types of injustice, and now they are exposed to famine, siege, and killing.”
In the West Bank, Israeli security forces killed eight Palestinians in clashes on Friday, and security measures were tightened in cities across the United States.
An Israeli diplomat in Beijing was stabbed — but not fatally — on Friday, a day after Israel criticized China for not condemning the Hamas attack. In France, a man who authorities said was under surveillance on suspicion of being an Islamic extremist killed one person with a knife and injured two others in the city of Arras. The authorities did not provide a motive in either case.
After meeting with the leaders of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and Jordan, Secretary of State Antony Blinken headed to Qatar to meet its ruler, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. Qatar has at times served as a mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and a number of Hamas leaders have homes there.
US officials said they were looking for ways to secure the release of hostages held by Hamas, establish a “safe zone” for Palestinians inside Gaza, deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza and evacuate foreigners trapped there, including about 500 to 600 people. American citizens.
Israel and Egypt, the only neighboring countries to Gaza, which have imposed a blockade on the impoverished Strip for 16 years, refused to allow people to cross their borders last week. Egypt said it would allow relief aid to enter, but the only border crossing from Egypt was effectively closed due to Israeli bombing.
His government said in a statement that Jordanian King Abdullah II, during his meeting with Blinken, warned against forced displacement and “collective punishment against the residents of Gaza.” It also warned that the crisis may spread to neighboring countries.
The Hamas attack on Israel, which began last Saturday, appears to have no immediate goals beyond indiscriminate massacre and hostage-taking in dozens of small settlements, a military base and a music festival. It killed about 1,300 people in Israel and wounded nearly 3,400, according to the Israeli government, excluding the attackers who were killed and wounded when the Israelis expelled them from the places they overran. Some of the victims were foreigners, including at least 27 Americans and 15 French nationals who were killed.
A Hamas spokesman said on Thursday that the attack was carried out by a battalion of 3,000 fighters, in addition to a reserve force of 1,500 soldiers.
In response, Israel has launched a much more intense bombing campaign in Gaza than in previous conflicts, which it says targets Hamas, but which Palestinians and aid groups say has mostly harmed civilians. Authorities in Gaza estimated the death toll at about 1,900 people, about 7,700 injured, and many more people whose homes were destroyed. Of the more than two million Gazans who live in an area the size of Philadelphia, the United Nations says about 400,000 people have been displaced from their homes.
Last Saturday, Israel suffered a greater number of deaths in one day than in any of its previous wars, and on Friday, the Israeli authorities accompanied international correspondents on a tour of a temporary morgue in Ramla in central Israel, where the arduous task of identifying bodies is carried out. Underway. About 500 bodies are kept there in more than a dozen refrigerated trucks.
Some of them were particularly difficult to identify because Hamas attackers burned them. The door of one of the cargo containers, which contained the bodies of children and infants, opened.
“Note the small bags,” said Lt. Col. Richard Hecht, a military spokesman. “They are children and infants. The small bags are for parts of their bodies,” he added.
The Israeli military said on Friday that allegations of its use of white phosphorus munitions in Gaza are “unequivocally false.” The groups Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said there was evidence that Israel used white phosphorus, a particularly powerful incendiary substance, whose use in populated areas would be considered a violation of international law.
In northern Gaza, including Gaza City, the region’s largest population center, many people fled south on Friday with what they could carry. But many others stayed, citing a host of reasons: they had no vehicles or fuel; are infirm or caring for someone who cannot be easily moved; They thought they would not be safer on the road or in the south; Or they were afraid they wouldn’t be allowed back.
The Israeli army said in its statement to the Palestinians that “Hamas terrorists are hiding in Gaza City, inside tunnels, under homes, and inside buildings inhabited by innocent civilians in Gaza,” urging them to “distance themselves from Hamas terrorists who are using you as human shields.” “.
Patrick Kingsley Report from Jerusalem Farnaz Fasihi from new york, Edward Wong From Amman, Jordan, Doha, Qatar, and Victoria Kim From Seoul. He contributed to the preparation of the reports Heba Yazbek, Aaron Puckerman, Raja Abdul Rahim, Monica Bronczuk, Peter Baker And Alexandra Stevenson.
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