Hatem Ali Associated Press Palestinians search through the rubble of buildings destroyed Thursday by the Israeli army in Rafah camp, in the south of the Gaza Strip.
Adel Zaanoun – Agence France-Presse and Amit Meyer – Agence France-Presse in Gaza
- Middle East
Israel on Friday ordered the evacuation to the south of “all civilians” from Gaza City, a measure condemned by the UN and rejected by Hamas, on the seventh day of the war, whose human toll continues to rise. increase, against the Palestinian Islamist movement that the Israeli Prime Minister promised to “crush”.
Since the start of hostilities, triggered on October 7 by a bloody attack by Hamas, at least 1,300 people, mostly civilians, were killed in Israel, according to a new army report on Friday.
Hamas is also holding around 150 hostages, of whom, it announced Friday, 13, “including foreigners,” were killed in Israeli strikes on Gaza. These bombings, launched in response to the Palestinian enclave, left 1,537 dead, including 500 children, according to local authorities.
The Israeli army announced Friday morning ordering “the evacuation of all civilians from Gaza City from their homes to the south, for their own safety and protection.”
Civilians will have to “go to the area south of Wadi Gaza”, a stream located south of Gaza City, she said, setting a deadline of 24 hours to which she later returned, admitting that the evacuation “will take time.”
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In the streets of Gaza City, leaflets in Arabic, dropped by Israeli drones and seen by AFP journalists, call on residents to leave their homes “immediately”. Many of them have been heading south since the morning by any means, on foot, piled up on truck trailers, in carts or by car.
And this despite the rejection of evacuation by Hamas, in power in Gaza since 2007. “Our Palestinian people reject the threat of the occupation leaders and their calls to leave their homes and flee to the south or Egypt,” he said .
In the morning, hundreds of rockets were also fired from Gaza towards Israeli territory, according to an AFP journalist, with the Israeli army confirming the shots.
In the surrounding capitals, but also at the UN, the Israeli evacuation order arouses concern and disapproval.
Concerning around 1.1 million residents of the northern Gaza Strip, almost half of the enclave's population, an evacuation of this magnitude is “impossible without causing devastating humanitarian consequences”, warned the spokesperson for the UN Secretary General, Stéphane Dujarric.
As a result, “the United Nations strongly calls for this order […] to be rescinded,” he insisted, a response described as “shameful” by Israel’s ambassador to the UN.
Jordan's King Abdullah II warned Friday against “any attempt to displace Palestinians,” stressing that the conflict “must not spread to neighboring countries.”
On Thursday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi called on Gazans to “stay on their land”, while Cairo controls Gaza's only opening to the world, since the complete siege imposed by Israel.
The evacuation order is “a forced transfer” and constitutes “a crime that defies understanding”, for his part castigated Friday the head of the Arab League, Ahmed Aboul Gheit in a letter addressed to the head of the UN, Antonio Guterres.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also “completely rejected the displacement” of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, equating it to a “second Nakba” (“Catastrophe” in Arabic), in reference to the flight of some 760,000 Palestinians. in 1948, with the creation of the State of Israel.
Russian President Vladimir Putin called for “stopping the bloodshed”, warning Friday that a possible ground assault on Gaza would cause “absolutely unacceptable losses among (Palestinian) civilians.”
On Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated his determination to destroy Hamas, classified as “terrorist” by the United States and the European Union, following an interview in Tel Aviv with the Secretary of State American Antony Blinken.
The attack launched by Hamas at dawn on October 7, on the last day of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, stunned the entire country.
Hundreds of Hamas fighters infiltrated Israel, killing more than a thousand civilians in the streets, at home or at music festivals, and sowing terror in a barrage of rockets.
In the town of Sderot, near the border with Gaza, Yossi Landau, a volunteer rescuer, said he had never seen such violence.
As the fighting raged, “a stretch of road that should have “taking 15 minutes took us 11 hours because we went and picked everyone up and put them in bags,” said the 50-year-old.
After the attack, the army claimed to have recovered the bodies of 1,500 infiltrated Hamas fighters.
Hundreds of people are still missing and bodies are being identified.
In the Palestinian enclave, the din of explosions, drones and other blasts is incessant, day and night. The Israeli army said it targeted 750 “military targets” overnight while “massive strikes” targeted the Al-Shati camp in Gaza, according to AFP journalists.
“We don’t know where to go. There is no safe place,” said Mohamed Abou Ali on Friday morning, in front of rubble searched by Gaza residents in search of buried people.
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More than 423,000 Palestinians have had to leave their homes in the Gaza Strip to flee the bombings, according to the UN, which has launched an emergency appeal for donations.< /p>
The UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) hosts approximately 64% of these displaced people in its establishments.
But in the Gaza Strip, subject since 2007 to a land, air and sea blockade, the 2.4 million inhabitants are deprived of water, electricity and food supplies, cut off by Israel.
< p>The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported testimonies according to which some residents “began to drink sea water, which is very salty and contaminated by 120,000 m3 of unused sewage. processed every day.”
In addition to the bombings, the army has deployed tens of thousands of soldiers around the enclave and on the border with Lebanon, a country from which pro-Iranian Hezbollah, an ally of Hamas, regularly launches rockets against Israel.
Hezbollah is “fully prepared” to intervene against Israel in due time, the number two of this formation assured Friday before a demonstration of its supporters in Beirut.
“Hezbollah follows the movements of the enemy […], we will take action at the right time,” warned Sheikh Naïm Qassem.
The head of Iranian diplomacy, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, visiting Beirut, earlier called on the United States to “control Israel” if it wants to avoid a regional war.
Thousands of people also demonstrated Friday in Iraq, Iran, Jordan and Bahrain in support of the Palestinians.
Antony Blinken visited Jordan, after assuring Thursday in Tel Aviv that the United States would “always” stand alongside Israel, and the US Secretary of State Defense Minister Lloyd Austin is due to meet Mr. Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant in Tel Aviv on Friday.
In Jordan, where he arrived on Friday, Mr. Blinken met King Abdullah II and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. He is then expected in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.
The UN Security Council is due to meet on Friday to address the situation in Gaza.