Israel Orders Million In Gaza To Evacuate Ahead Of Offensive; UN Warns Of Catastrophe

Israel has warned more than a million people in northern Gaza to evacuate southwards in the next 24 hours, ahead of an expected ground attack into the thickly populated enclave.

Despite deploying tens of thousands of reservists along its southern border, Israel Defense Forces have not yet confirmed if it is going to intensify cross-border military operation along the ground.

Hamas militants, who ignited the war with surprise attacks in Israeli cities last weekend, have reportedly told residents in the besieged Gaza Strip to ignore the evacuation order and not to leave their homes.

The United Nations called on Israel to repeal the order for mass evacuation, warning that it will have “devastating humanitarian consequences”.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society, or PRCS, says there are “no safe areas” to evacuate civilians.

Hamas claimed that 13 Israeli hostages held in their custody have been killed in bombings by Israeli forces in Gaza since Thursday. The Palestinian militants had kidnapped around 150 people from Israel during their lightning attack Saturday.

Israeli forces are continuing their bombardment of Gaza in response to it, and the death toll crossed 1300, reports say.

“PRCS calls on the world leaders and the international community to intervene immediately to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe that is unfolding right now,” it said in a statement Friday.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin arrived in Tel Aviv Friday. He will meet with Israeli leaders “face-to-face and underscore the unwavering support of the U.S. for the people of Israel and commitment to ensuring Israel has what it needs to defend itself,” the Pentagon said. Austin will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant, and the Israeli War Cabinet. He will also see firsthand some of the U.S. security assistance delivered to Israel.

“European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Parliament President Roberta Metsola will visit Israel Friday to express solidarity with the victims of the Hamas terrorist attacks, and meet with Israeli leadership,” the Commission said in a press release.

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