Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Evacuation of Gaza "will take time", Israeli army admits

The Israeli army said on Friday that it would "take time" to implement the evacuation order previously given to Palestinians in the northern Gaza Strip. The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) recently notified the United Nations of the order and reportedly said the Palestinians had been given 24 hours to comply.

"We are trying to give time, and we are making a lot of effort; we understand that this will take longer than 24 hours," army spokesman Daniel Hagari told a press conference without giving a clear timetable. Israeli forces are urging over one million people to flee the Gaza Strip as the IDF prepares a ground invasion in response to the attacks from Hamas.

Hagari said the army would try to limit attacks to make the evacuation somewhat safer but noted that this was a "war zone". On Friday, the Israeli army used drones to distribute leaflets over Gaza, urging residents to flee south "immediately".

Global pushback

The United Nations has rejected the Israeli army's call for a mass evacuation of northern Gaza. "The UN considers it impossible to carry out such an evacuation without devastating humanitarian consequences," UN spokesman Rolando Gomez said in Geneva on Friday. The UN is therefore "urgently" calling for the order to be withdrawn to prevent "an already tragic situation from turning into a catastrophe".

The World Health Organisation (WHO), for its part, warned Israel that moving seriously injured patients in Gaza was tantamount to a "death sentence". Asking health workers to do this is 'beyond cruel', a spokesman told the press in Geneva on Friday.

Other voices against evacuation

Aside from the UN and WHO, others have spoken out against the evacuation. King Abdullah II of Jordan warned against the forced displacement of Palestinians during a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is currently in the region.

The king fears the violence could spread to neighbouring countries and worsen the refugee crisis. He called for opening the humanitarian corridors so that emergency aid can enter the Gaza Strip and civilians can be protected. He further called for a stop to the fighting between Israel and the Palestinian terrorist movement Hamas.

Additionally, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has compared the mass evacuation of Gaza to the expulsion of Palestinians from Israel in 1947, the Wafa agency reported. He "strongly rejects the expulsion" and has said it would be a "Nakba" for Palestinians.

Nakba means 'catastrophe' in Arabic, and the word is used by Palestinians as a reference to the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 when some 760,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes, and more than 500 Palestinian villages and hamlets were destroyed.

©Mohammed Talatene/dpa

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