The hours following the 24-hour deadline given by the Israeli government to evacuate the northern region of the Gaza Strip were chaos. On Friday morning (13), the Israeli army informed the United Nations (UN) that the families should leave the area, indicating a land invasion. The deadline ended at 6 pm (Brasília time, 00:00 Saturday local time), but the Israeli government signaled that the invasion of Palestinian territory could take longer to begin.
Soon after the initial warning, entire groups began to be seen on the streets and roads trying to escape. With suitcases, bundles, mattresses and even animals, people move in motor vehicles in poor condition, carts, bicycles and on foot.
“Forget food, forget electricity, forget fuel. The only concern now is whether you will make it, whether you will survive,” Nebal Farsakh, spokesman for the Red Crescent, the branch of the Red Cross in Muslim countries, told the news network. Al Jazeera. According to the agency, he was in tears in the message.
Israel attacks health services in Gaza; organizations talk about system collapse
On the other hand, many people decided to stay at home, “if we are going to die here, let’s die in our homes. We will die in the north or in the south. We will die with our heads held high, remaining in our lands, defending our rights and remaining firm in our faith.” said Mansour Shouman, also a resident of the region, to Al Jazeera.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health reported that it is impossible to empty hospitals. “We cannot leave the sick and injured behind,” said ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra. According to the organization Doctors Without Borders, the movement of patients remains complicated.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on Israel to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe. “Moving more than 1 million people across a densely populated war zone to a place without food, water or shelter, when the entire territory is under siege, is extremely dangerous and, in some cases, simply impossible,” he said.
The UN special rapporteur on the human rights of internal refugees, Paula Gaviria Betancur, also highlighted that displacement is inconceivable. “Forced population transfers constitute a crime against humanity and collective punishment is prohibited under international humanitarian law,” she said in a statement.
More than 340,000 Palestinians have left their homes in Gaza, says UN
“We are horrified at the prospect of another million Palestinians joining the more than 423,000 people already forcibly expelled from their homes by last week’s violence. It is inconceivable that more than half of Gaza’s population could cross a war zone without devastating humanitarian consequences, especially while deprived of essential supplies and basic services,” he warned.
The United Nations (UN) agency for Palestinian refugees said it will not empty schools that are under the care of the international entity and where hundreds of thousands of people are sheltering. But it moved its headquarters to the south.
Israel and Hamas
Earlier, Israeli military spokesman Daniel Hagari had been asked by journalists whether United Nations hospitals and shelters would be protected in the event of attacks. He responded that the military would keep civilians safe as much as possible, but warned, “It’s a war zone.”
Hamas refused the Israeli evacuation warning, “We will resist Israel’s attempt to ethnically cleanse Gaza. Israel has publicly declared its plan to commit genocide against the Palestinians,” said Izzat al-Risheq, a member of the Hamas political bureau.
Editing: Rodrigo Durão Coelho