The Israeli military on Friday called on all civilians in Gaza City to evacuate "southwards" as it maintains its bombardment of the coastal enclave in response to Hamas terror attacks that killed more than 1,200 people.
“The IDF calls for the evacuation of all civilians of Gaza City from their homes southwards for their own safety and protection and move to the area south of the Wadi Gaza,” the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement.
The United Nations warned Thursday that an Israeli military order to evacuate the entire 1.1 million population of northern Gaza to the south of the besieged enclave was "impossible" without causing major humanitarian consequences.
In its statement Friday, the IDF said evacuated civilians will be able to return to Gaza City "only when another announcement permitting it is made."
“Hamas terrorists are hiding in Gaza City inside tunnels underneath houses and inside buildings populated with innocent Gazan civilians,” the IDF said, claiming that Hamas militants “are using” civilians of Gaza as “human shields.”
“Do not approach the area of the security fence with the State of Israel,” the IDF said, adding it will “continue to operate significantly in Gaza City and make extensive efforts to avoid harming civilians.”
Israel has amassed more than 300,000 reservists along its southern border with Gaza but has not confirmed whether it is planning for an intensified military operation.
More than 1,500 people have been killed in Gaza, according to the Palestinian health ministry. The airstrikes have also displaced hundreds of thousands of people.