Guaranteed safety for Palestinians fleeing northern Gaza expires as Israel ground invasion imminent

Guaranteed safety for Palestinians fleeing northern Gaza expires as Israel ground invasion imminent

Thousands of Palestinians have fled the north of the Gaza Strip after a 24 hour evacuation order issued by The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) expired

Georgina Cutler

By Georgina Cutler

Published: 13/10/2023

- 07:14

Updated: 15/10/2023

- 13:09

The UK's Foreign Office is urging British citizens in Gaza to follow the IDF's order.

  • Gaza is bracing for an invasion after Israel issued a 24 hour order to evacuate
  • Hamas has ordered people to stay inside despite threat
  • Shapps warns that UK nationals will still be in Gaza

Thousands of Palestinians have fled the north of the Gaza Strip after a 24 hour evacuation order issued by The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) expired.

Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu has warned that Israel "will destroy Hamas" as tanks are sent to Gaza ahead of an imminent full-scale invasion.

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The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) carried out "localised raids" in Gaza last night but Netanyahu has vowed that Israel's counter-offensive against Hamas is "only the beginning".

Around 1.1 million people have been urged to leave the area and move closer to the Israeli-Egyptian border.

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said his defence forces would take Hamas "out of Gaza and out of the Earth" and "effect permanent change" in the territory.

In an evacuation statement, the IDF said: "The IDF calls for the evacuation of all civilians from Gaza City, from their homes, southwards, for their own safety and protection, and to move to the area south of Wadi Gaza, the river Gaza, as shown on the map.

"The Hamas terrorist organisation waged a war against the state of Israel, and Gaza City is an area where military operations are taking place.

"This evacuation is for your own safety. You will be able to return to Gaza City only when another announcement permitting it is made. Do not approach the area of the security fence of Israel.

"Hamas terrorists are hiding in Gaza City, inside tunnels, underneath houses and inside buildings populated with innocent civilians who are using you as human shields.

"In the following days, the IDF will continue to operate with significant force in Gaza City and will make extensive efforts to avoid harming civilians.”

The move is widely considered the strongest hint yet that Israel is preparing to launch a ground offensive in response to Hamas' attack.


Israeli tanks move near Gaza border

Israeli tanks move near Gaza border


The UK's Foreign Office issued an update to British citizens within Gaza following the IDF's order.

It said: "We advise following the advice issued by the Israeli authorities."

Despite the IDF's clear evacuation order, Hamas is encouraging Gazans to stay put and ignore Israeli advice.

Hamas' authority for refugee affairs said people should "remain steadfast in your homes and to stand firm in the face of this disgusting psychological war waged by the occupation".

However, Lieutenant Colonel Richard Hecht stressed no political decision has yet been announced.

Israel has evacuated tens of thousands of residents from other nearby communities amid growing tensions.

A potential ground offensive would come nine years after dozens of IDF soldiers and hundreds of Hamas terrorists died in the 2014 Gaza War.

Rishi Sunak urged Benjamin Netanyahu to "protect ordinary Palestinians" as the UK continues to stand "side by side" with Israel.

The Prime Minister's comments came after he pledged to send the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force to the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

IDF spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari stressed the order has been imposed to protect Gazans.

He argued: "We are fighting a terror group, not the Gazan population.

"We want civilians not to be harmed, but we cannot live with the rule of Hamas-ISIS near our border."

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Hagari added: "Hamas carried out one of the most horrific acts the world has seen, we are carrying out an effort to evacuate residents in order to deepen the damage, to collapse this organisation."

However, United Nations spokesperson Stephane Dujarric labelled the order "impossible" without "devastating humanitarian consequences".

The World Health Organisation claimed asking patients to evacuate hospitals in Gaza amounted to a "death sentence", adding: "There are severely ill people whose injuries mean their only chances of survival is being on life support."

The IDF instead believes the evacuation will take several days but says more than 300,000 residents have already fled from areas north of Gaza City.

The UN claimed that 400,000 Gazans have been displaced since Israel began its campaign following Hamas’s unprecedented massacre of over 1,300 Israelis.

The IDF's evacuation order has reportedly resulted in Gazans becoming increasingly terrified and confused.

Israel's air force yesterday confirmed it dropped 6,000 bombs on Hamas targets in Gaza since Saturday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Downing StreetIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Downing StreetPA

Gaza's health ministry has claimed that at least 1,537 have died and more than 6,000 have sustained injuries.

Hamas launched its unprecedented attack on Israel on Saturday.

The terrorist organisation killed and abducted a number of Israelis.

Netanyahu's Government showed US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken graphic images of dead children and civilians yesterday.

Blinken said: "It's simply depravity in the worst imaginable way.

"Images are worth a thousand words. These images may be worth a million."

The Israeli Prime Minister vowed to annihilate Hamas following the attack, adding: "We will crush and destroy it."

But Hamas threatened to execute Israeli hostages if Netanyahu pushed ahead with his aerial bombardment.

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