The Israel Defense Forces on Friday gave residents of northern Gaza 24 hours to evacuate southwards as the area continues to be heavily bombarded by missiles and artillery.
Meanwhile, Israeli tanks and other heavy weapons have been amassed near Gaza ahead of an expected ground offensive. Gaza residents are preparing for the worst amid the IDF’s orders to evacuate the Strip’s northern areas, including Gaza City.
The 365 square km Gaza Strip, sandwiched between Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea, is home to over 2.3 million people, most of them refugees, with over 1.1 million of them residing in the territory’s northern areas.
Hamas’s surprised offensive into territories bordering Gaza last Saturday prompted Israeli authorities to announce a state of war, and to order the complete blockade of the Strip, cutting off supplies of water, food, fuel and electricity.
The United Nations estimated on October 14 that over 1,300 buildings in Gaza have been destroyed by Israeli air and artillery strikes, with local health officials reporting the deaths of over 2,200 people, 8,700+ injured and over 400,000 displaced.
Israel has reported over 1,300 people killed and 3,400 wounded following the Hamas assault. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday expressed Russia’s readiness to mediate the crisis, and warned Tel Aviv that an Israeli ground assault in Gaza could result in massive civilian casualties.
The United Nations warned Saturday that the situation in Gaza is turning into a matter of life and death as residents risk running out of water. UNICEF, meanwhile, has warned that the displacement of a million Palestinians in the Strip may cause a humanitarian catastrophe, since there are no safe places for them.
Sputnik / ABC Flash Point News 2023.