Wednesday, April 17, 2024
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Many in Gaza forced to flee their homes in the hope of survival

Nearly one in five civilians of Gaza has been forced to flee their homes. The situation got worse soon after the Israeli military ordered some 1 million people to leave for the south of the territory ahead of an expected ground operation.

According to the UN, the Israeli military’s call for civilians to move south affects 1.1 million people. If the call is carried out, it would mean that the entire population of the territory would have to move to the southern half of the 40-kilometre strip.

An Israeli spokesman, Jonathan Conricus, said the military would take “extensive efforts to avoid harming civilians”.

More than half of Palestinians in Gaza are descendants of refugees from the 1948 war, when hundreds of thousands fled or were expelled from what is now Israel. For many, the evacuation order has heightened the fear of being expelled again. Israeli airstrikes on Thursday already forced at least 423,000 people – nearly one in five Gazans – to flee their homes, says in the UN report.

Gaza’s health ministry said it was impossible to safely transport the wounded from hospitals, which are already struggling with the high number of dead and wounded.

Al Awda Hospital struggled to evacuate dozens of patients and staff after the military contacted it and ordered it to do so by Friday evening, says the humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders, which supports the facility. The military extended that deadline until Saturday morning.

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees, known as UNRWA, stated it would not evacuate its schools, where hundreds of thousands of people have taken refuge. However, spokesperson Juliette Touma said it had moved its headquarters to the southern Gaza Strip.

The scale and speed of the unfolding humanitarian crisis is bone-chilling. Gaza is fast becoming a hellhole and is on the brink of collapse, said Philippe Lazzarini, UNRWA’s commissioner general.

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