Palestinians struggled on Saturday to flee areas of Gaza hit by Israeli military forces, while facing a growing water crisis and medical shortages, ahead of an expected ground offensive a week after bloody attacks by Hamas against Israel.
Israel renewed its calls on social media and airdropped leaflets for Gaza residents to move south, while Hamas urged people to stay in their homes.
The UN and aid groups claim that such a rapid exodus could cause untold human suffering.
The evacuation directive covers an area of 1.1 million inhabitants, approximately half of the territory’s population.
The Israeli military said “hundreds of thousands” of Palestinians had heeded the warning and headed south.
He gave Palestinians a six-hour deadline ending Saturday afternoon to travel safely inside Gaza along two main routes.
A week after the Hamas attack, Israel is still working to identify the victims.
With special approval from the rabbis, workers at a military base in central Israel continue the arduous task of identifying the bodies of dead Israelis and foreigners, most of them civilians. .
Usually, work stops on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday visited Beeri and Kfar Aza, two towns on the southern border where Hamas fighters killed scores of Israelis in their first attack, to meet with soldiers and tour the ruins. along with the houses where the killings took place.
Netanyahu has faced criticism that his government has not done enough to meet the families of those killed.
In a speech broadcast nationwide on Saturday night, Israel’s top military spokesman, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, accused Hamas of trying to use civilians as human shields and issued a statement call for Gaza residents to move south.
“We will attack Gaza City soon,” he said, without giving a date for the attack on the 40-kilometer territory.
The military said it was preparing a coordinated offensive in Gaza with air, ground and naval forces.
Hamas remains defiant. In a televised address on Saturday, Ismail Haniyeh, a senior Hamas official, said that “all the massacres” will not destroy the Palestinian people.
Meanwhile, the attacks continued: Hamas launched rockets into Israel and Israel carried out attacks in Gaza.
An Israeli airstrike near the Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza killed at least 27 people and injured 80 others, Gaza health authorities reported.
Most of the victims were women and children, according to authorities. Doctors at Kamal Edwan Hospital shared disturbing images of burnt and mutilated bodies.
It was unclear how many Palestinians remained in northern Gaza as of Saturday afternoon, said Juliette Touma, spokeswoman for the UN refugee agency.
“What we know is that hundreds of thousands of people have fled. And that’s a million people lost in total in a week,” he said.
An estimated 35,000 displaced civilians crowded the compound of Gaza City’s main hospital, sitting under trees in the vacant lot, as well as inside the lobby and hallways of the building, hoping to be protected from fight, according to medical officials.
“People believe that this is the only safe place after their houses are destroyed and they are forced to flee,” said Dr. Medhat Abbas, a health ministry official. “Gaza City is a terrible scene of destruction.”
Basic necessities such as food, fuel and drinking water have also been depleted due to Israel’s all-out assault.
Water stopped coming out of the taps in the whole territory. Amal Abu Yahia, a 25-year-old pregnant mother from the Jabaliya refugee camp, said she anxiously waits for a few minutes every day or two when contaminated water leaks from her pipes. basement.
He then rationed it out, giving priority to his 5-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter. He said that he himself drinks very little so he only urinates every two days.
Near the coast, the only tap water is contaminated with water from the Mediterranean Sea due to the lack of sanitation facilities.
Mohammed Ibrahim, 28, said his neighbors in Gaza City have started drinking the salt water.
“Gaza has been without water for almost 3 days, we have no power or electricity,” said Inas Hamdan, spokeswoman for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees. “Without a humanitarian corridor, the consequences will be catastrophic.”
The evacuation of the Israeli army will force the entire population of the territory to flock to the southern half of the Gaza Strip, while Israel continues its attacks on the entire territory, including the south.
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