Israel orders new evacuations in Gaza and vows to intensify war

Residents voiced anger at the order, the latest in repeated Israeli relocating demands since October 7

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu receives a security briefing with commanders and soldiers in the northern Gaza Strip, on Monday, December 25. AP
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The Israeli military on Tuesday ordered people to leave areas of Khan Younis in southern Gaza and move to nearby Rafah after a warning from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the war is set to intensify.

“The area you are staying in is considered a fight zone, for your safety, you must immediately flee to known shelters in the Shabora neighbourhood, Zohor, and Tal Al Sultan in Rafah, south of the Gaza Strip,” the military said in leaflets dropped on Tuesday morning.

The order applied to people in areas of the Kizan neighbourhood marked as blocks 64 and 112, according to the leaflet.

Residents voiced anger at the order, the latest in repeated Israeli relocating demands since it launched a devastating military assault in Gaza mainly targeting the ruling Hamas militant group on October 7.

“I am not going to leave my home. I used to open my home for people who came from the north, and I will keep it open,” said Abu Ibraheem Ouda, who lives in one of the areas mentioned by the Israeli army.

Mr Ouda told The National he was worried about his pregnant daughter, who was to stay at his home with her husband and two-year-old daughter.

“I expect her delivery any minute, so where should I take her while she is supposed to have a suitable atmosphere and clean environment for her and her new baby?” he asked.

“They want us to flee to one of UNRWA’s schools, which is full of disease,” Mr Ouda said, referring to schools run by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees that are already full of people displaced by the war and lack facilities, including water supply and toilets, to support such large numbers.

“No, I will not let her live in such a situation."

Meanwhile, Israeli shelling has hit the Palestinian Red Crescent's headquarters in Khan Younis. Israeli strikes have been getting closer to the headquarters, adjacent to Al Amal Hospital, both of which shelter 14,000 displaced people.

Mr Netanyahu said during a visit to northern Gaza on Monday that there would be no let-up in the campaign to eradicate Hamas, whose militants killed hundreds and took about 240 hostages from southern Israel in attacks on October 7.

“We are not stopping. The war will continue until the end, until we finish it, no less,” he said.

Separately, in an article published in the Wall Street Journal, the Israeli Prime Minister said eradication of Hamas was one of three conditions for ending the war, which has killed more than 20,600 people in Gaza so far and displaced its 2.2 million inhabitants

On returning from Gaza, he told members of his Likud party: “We're intensifying the fighting in the coming days,” according to a party statement.

His visit to Gaza came after Israeli air strikes killed more than 100 people in central Gaza late on Sunday, including at least 70 in bombings that hit a residential block in the Maghazi refugee camp near Deir Al Balah, health officials in Gaza said.

Some of the camp's residents who fled to other areas, returned only to find their homes in ruins.

A World Health Organisation team who visited a hospital treating victims of the strikes “heard harrowing accounts shared by health workers and victims”, the head of the UN agency said.

“One child had lost their whole family in the strike on the camp. A nurse at the hospital suffered the same loss,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on social media.

In the occupied West Bank, two Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces during a raid in the Al Fawwar refugee camp, the Palestinian Health Ministry announced.

The two were identified as Ahmad Yousef Yaghi, 17, and Ibrahim Majid Abdel Majeed, 31.

Violence across the West Bank has flared since the war started. About 300 Palestinians have been killed in the last 12 weeks, according to Palestinian officials.

Updated: December 26, 2023, 1:59 PM