Israel orders evacuation of northern Gaza
Israel has given more than one million Palestinians living in northern Gaza an ultimatum to evacuate their homes within 24 hours, ahead of a possible ground invasion targeting Hamas. The Israeli military said it had dropped leaflets, sent text messages and made phone calls to warn residents of the impending attack, which aims to destroy Hamas’s rocket launchers and tunnels. Israel said it was doing everything possible to avoid civilian casualties, but Hamas urged people to stay put and resist the occupation.
The evacuation order came after a week of intense airstrikes and rocket fire that have killed at least 200 Palestinians and 10 Israelis, according to health officials. The violence erupted after Hamas launched a deadly attack on southern Israel on October 5, killing 13 hostages and injuring dozens more. Israel responded with a massive bombardment of Gaza, targeting Hamas’s military and political infrastructure, as well as residential buildings and media offices.
Palestinians flee to safer areas amid humanitarian crisis
Tens of thousands of Palestinians have fled their homes in northern Gaza, seeking refuge in schools, mosques and UN facilities in the south. Many carried only a few belongings, while others left behind their livestock and crops. Some said they had nowhere to go, as the entire Gaza Strip was under fire. The UN humanitarian office OCHA said more than 400,000 Palestinians had been internally displaced due to the hostilities, and warned of a looming catastrophe if the situation escalated further.
Gaza, which is home to about two million people, has been under a crippling Israeli blockade since 2007, when Hamas seized power from its rival Fatah. The coastal enclave suffers from chronic shortages of electricity, water, fuel and medical supplies, as well as high unemployment and poverty. The current conflict has exacerbated the humanitarian crisis, as many health facilities, water and sanitation systems, and power lines have been damaged or destroyed by the airstrikes. The UN said it was working with humanitarian partners to provide emergency assistance to the affected population, but faced challenges in accessing and delivering aid due to the ongoing hostilities.
International community calls for ceasefire and dialogue
The international community has expressed grave concern over the escalating violence and the humanitarian situation in Gaza, and called for an immediate ceasefire and a resumption of dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians. The US, which is Israel’s closest ally, said it was engaged in intensive diplomacy to de-escalate the tensions and restore calm. President Joe Biden spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and reiterated his support for Israel’s right to defend itself, while urging both sides to protect civilians and pursue a peaceful solution.
The UN Security Council held an emergency meeting on October 12, and issued a statement calling for an end to the violence and respect for international humanitarian law. The statement also stressed the need for a two-state solution, based on the pre-1967 borders, with Jerusalem as the capital of both Israel and Palestine. The Arab League, the European Union, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and several other countries and regional blocs also condemned the attacks and urged the parties to cease fire and resume negotiations.