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Israel issues fresh warning to evacuate Khan Younis

November 18, 2023 1:32 PM IST

Israel | middle east | Hamas | Gaza | Palestine | khan younis

Israel issued a fresh warning to Palestinians in Khan Younis, urging them to move away from the conflict areas towards humanitarian aid, signaling a potential attack on Hamas in southern Gaza following the situation in the north.

“We’re urging relocation. I understand it’s difficult for many, but we want to prevent civilians from being caught in the crossfire,” stated Mark Regev, an aide to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in an interview.

This call might force hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who previously fled the Israeli assault on Gaza City to move again, including the residents of Khan Younis, a city with over 400,000 inhabitants, exacerbating an already severe humanitarian crisis.

Israel pledged to eliminate the Hamas militant group controlling the Gaza Strip after their incursion into Israel on October 7, resulting in the deaths of 1,200 people and the capture of 240 hostages in the enclave.

Since then, Israel extensively bombed Gaza City, leading to widespread destruction, mandated the evacuation of the entire northern part of the narrow strip, and displaced approximately two-thirds of the enclave’s 2.3 million Palestinians. Many of those displaced fear that their situation might become permanent.

Gaza health authorities reported an increased death toll on Friday, surpassing 12,000, including 5,000 children. The United Nations considers these figures credible, although updates are infrequent due to the challenges in collecting information.

Israel distributed leaflets over Khan Younis advising people to seek refuge in shelters, hinting at imminent military operations in the area.

Regev said Israeli troops will have to advance into the city to oust Hamas fighters from underground tunnels and bunkers but that no such “enormous infrastructure” exists in less built-up areas to the west.

“I’m pretty sure that they won’t have to move again” if they move west, he said, referring to people in the area. “We’re asking them to move to an area where hopefully there will be tents and a field hospital.”

Because the western areas are closer to the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, humanitarian aid could be brought in “as quickly as possible,” Regev said.

With the war entering its seventh week, there is still no sign of any let-up, despite international calls for a ceasefire or at least for humanitarian pauses.

(Inputs from Reuters)

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