Israel orders north Gaza evacuation —but to where?


On Oct. 13, Israel ordered 1.1 million people living in the north of the Gaza Strip to evacuate to the south of the enclave within 24 hours, ahead of an expected ground invasion. The order came after gunmen from Hamas, the political and militant group that governs Gaza, carried out an unprecedented incursion into Israel on Oct. 7, killing more than 1,300 people, including many civilians, and taking between 100 and 150 hostages. The UN called on Israel to rescind its evacuation order, with a spokesperson saying it is “impossible for such a movement to take place without devastating humanitarian consequences.”

Since the Hamas incursion, Israel has imposed a complete siege on Gaza, which has a population of about 2.1 million people–almost half under the age of 18. Israel has cut off electricity and water, and is blocking the entry of food and fuel. It has dropped more than 6,000 bombs on the enclave, killing more than 1,500 people—a third of them children—and wounding more than 6,600. Israel’s evacuation order has created fear and confusion, as residents of northern Gaza flee south with little idea of where they will find shelter or how their basic needs will be met. All the borders of the enclave are now closed to civilians trying to flee.

Disinformation finds fertile ground
Following the Hamas attack, lurid allegations quickly emerged of the widespread and systematic rape of Israeli women, and of the killing of at least 40 babies in one kibbutz, including beheadings. Before these claims were walked back and debunked, they were repeated by established outlets and journalists, with some even making it into the mouth of US President Joe Biden. The Wall Street Journal initially accused Iran of having helped Hamas plot the attack, before later acknowledging that Tehran was actually surprised by its timing and scale. Unsurprisingly, social media has also become a hotbed of disinformation, with the EU warning X (formerly Twitter), Meta (which owns Facebook and Instagram), and TikTok about “illegal content and disinformation.” From spurious claims by Hamas that its fighters did not target Israeli civilians (many civilians, including women and children, were killed in its attack), to specious characterizations of the brutal Israeli response as “self-defense” (again, its strikes have killed many civilians, including women and children), to the double standards employed by the EU, truth has certainly become a casualty of this war.

From The New Humanitarian, Oct. 13.

Photo: Maan News Agency

  1. UN: ‘evidence of war crimes’ mounts in Israel-Gaza conflict

    A UN independent commission stated on Oct. 10 that there was “already clear evidence that war crimes may have been committed” by “all sides” in the new outbreak of Israel-Gaza conflict. The UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory said that anyone who has broken international law “must be held accountable for their crimes.” (Jurist)

    Human Rights Watch on Oct. 12 claimed that the Israeli armed forces had used white phosphorous in munitions fired at populated urban locations in Gaza, in contravention of international law. The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) appeared to rebut this allegation in subsequent statements. (Jurist) Israel has been accused of using white phosphorous in Gaza before.

    Aid organizations are urgently calling for a “humanitarian corridor” in and out of Gaza since Israel cut off supplies of fuel, electricity, and water, and as air-strikes intensify amid fears of a ground invasion. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk said Oct. 10 that depriving Gazans of basic survival needs would be a violation of international humanitarian law. (TNH)

    ‘War cabinet’ formed
    Israel’s Security Cabinet declared a state of war on Oct. 8, the day after the first wave f attacks from Gaza. The Prime Minister’s  office made the declaration public, stating that the war “was imposed on the State of Israel through a murderous terrorist attack from the Gaza Strip.” (Jurist)

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Oct. 11 announced formation of an emergency wartime government. Benny Gantz, a senior opposition figure and former defense minister, as joined the government for the duration of the conflict. Netanyahu, Gantz and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said they are forming a “war cabinet.” (The Guardian)

    Threat of internationalization
    Syrian state media say Israeli forces on Oct. 13 hit the country’s two main international airports with missiles, putting them out of action. Reports said runways had been damaged at both Damascus and Aleppo airports and flights would be diverted to Latakia.

    Israel has not commented on the strike. It has previously attacked targets in Syria linked to Iran. (BBC News)

    An Oct. 14 Israeli artillery strike in southern Lebanon resulted in the death of Reuters journalist Issam Abdallah and wounded six others, prompting a UN spokesperson to call for an investigation into the strike. Two other Reuters journalists, as well as journalists from Al-Jazeera and the AFP, were injured as well.  (Jurist)

  2. Israel repeats evacuation order for residents of north Gaza

    On Oct. 15, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) reiterated evacuation orders urging residents of northern Gaza to flee to the south to allow for military operations in the area. The IDF gave a two-hour window within which Israeli military would refrain from conducting any operations in the Salah al-Din route to allow for the evacuation.

    The warnings have been condemned by the World Health Organization (WHO), which asserts that hospitals in southern Gaza do not have the capacity to receive patients from hospitals in the north, and that the order is effectively a death sentence for patients and health workers. The WHO emphasized that access to medical care is a human right under international law, and urged Israel to reverse the evacuation order. (Jurist)

  3. UN peacekeeping location in Lebanon struck with rocket

    United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) spokesman Andrea Tenenti said Oct. 15 that a rocket shell struck a UNIFIL location in the country’s south, but no one was injured. That day, Lebanese Hezbollah militants attacked Israeli army posts and a village near the northern border. Israel responded with air-strikes in Lebanon as UN peacekeepers warned that border hostilities were intensifying. One person was killed and three others were injured in an attack by Hezbollah on the farming town of Shtula, according to the militant group and Israeli medical personnel, as the deadliest border violence since a month-long conflict in 2006 began its second week. (Jurist)

  4. No way in for Gaza aid, no way out for Palestinians

    Aid flights are landing at el-Arish international airport in northern Egypt, but so far there’s no agreement to allow urgently needed relief supplies into the Gaza Strip, where needs are soaring as Israel intensifies its bombardment ahead of an expected ground invasion. (TNH)

  5. Blast at Gaza hospital kills hundreds; IDF, Palestinians blame each other

    A blast at the Anglican Church-run Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City’s southern Al Zaytoun neighborhood killed hundreds of people, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent. Gaza’s health ministry, run by Hamas, initially placed the death toll at 500 and blamed an Israel Defense Force (IDF) air-strike. The IDF’s top spokesperson later claimed that the blast had been the result of a failed rocket attack by Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The Al-Ahli Arab Hospital had been sheltering civilians at the time the blast occurred.

    The Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, which administers the hospital as a ministry of the Anglican Communion, issued a statement calling the blast an “attack,” reading in part:

    In the strongest terms, the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem condemns this atrocious attack that has transpired in the heart of Gaza. Initial reports suggest the loss of countless lives, a manifestation of what can only be described as a crime against humanity. Hospitals, by the tenants of international humanitarian law, are sanctuaries, yet this assault has transgressed those sacred boundaries. We heed the call of [Anglican] Archbishop [of Canterbury] Justin Welby, who emplored for the safeguarding of medical facilities and the recession of evacuation orders. Regrettably, Gaza remains bereft of safe havens.

    The diocese also said the incident “deserves international condemnation and retribution.”

    Chief IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari, however, said:

    I can confirm that an analysis of the IDF operational systems indicates a barrage of rockets was fired by terrorists in Gaza, passing in close proximity to the … hospital in Gaza at the time it was hit. Intelligence from few sources that we have in our hands indicates that the Islamic Jihad is responsible for the failed rocket launch which hit the hospital in Gaza.

    In its press release, the Palestinian Red Crescent said the “bombardment” of the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital was a “war crime.” Article 18 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, to which Israel and Palestine are both parties, prohibits civilian hospitals from being targeted and requires that they “be respected and protected by the Parties to the conflict.”

    According to the American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital was previously hit by Israeli rocket fire on Saturday, resulting in damage to two floors of its diagnostic cancer center and four injuries. The strike prompted Anglican Archbishop Welby to declare in a statement that “[h]ospitals and patients in Gaza are in grave danger.”

    At least 2,778 Palestinians and 1,400 Israelis have been killed during hostilities since Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel, according to the Palestinian health ministry and the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office. (Jurist)

  6. US vetoes Security Council resolution on Gaza ‘pause’

    The United States on Oct. 18 vetoed a UN Security Council resolution that would have called for “humanitarian pauses” to deliver lifesaving aid to millions in Gaza. While 12 of the Council’s 15 members voted in favor of the Brazilian-led text, one (the US) voted against, and two (Russia and the United Kingdom) abstained. (UN News)

  7. Israel to allow humanitarian aid to Gaza via Egypt

    The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office announced Oct. 18 that it will allow food, water, and medicine from Egypt for civilians living in the Gaza Strip. The office emphasized the government will stop any attempt to bring supplies to Hamas, or any aid deliveries from Israeli territory. (Jurist)