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Middle East

Israel enforces new evacuations in Gaza's Khan Younis amid escalating conflict

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  • Israel has ordered new evacuations in Khan Younis, signaling a potential new ground offensive.
  • The humanitarian crisis in Gaza is worsening, with thousands of Palestinians forced to flee to overcrowded camps.
  • International calls for a ceasefire and increased humanitarian aid are growing amid the ongoing conflict.

The Israeli military has issued a large-scale evacuation directive for Palestinians residing in significant portions of Khan Younis, a city in the southern region of Gaza. This move has raised fears of a potential new ground offensive on Gaza's second-largest city, exacerbating the already dire humanitarian situation in the region.

On Monday, the Israeli army ordered residents and displaced individuals in the eastern sector of Khan Younis and a substantial area in the southeast corner of the Gaza Strip to evacuate immediately. Army spokesperson Avichay Adraee urged civilians to relocate to the designated humanitarian zone for their safety. This evacuation order follows a barrage of rockets launched from Khan Younis, escalating tensions further.

Residents of Khan Younis reported receiving audio messages from Israeli phone numbers instructing them to vacate their homes. Zeinab Abu Jazar, a displaced woman, emotionally recounted receiving a mobile phone notification urging evacuation. The Israeli army directed people to relocate to al-Mawasi, a coastal region identified as a safe zone by the IDF, which has now become overcrowded with makeshift and unhygienic tent camps.

Humanitarian Concerns

The United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres expressed dismay over the new evacuation order, emphasizing the lack of safe havens for Palestinian civilians in Gaza and calling for a ceasefire to protect the population from further harm. The potential for a renewed assault on Khan Younis looms as civilians began leaving the city on foot and in vehicles following the evacuation order.

Israeli forces have previously engaged in protracted combat in Khan Younis, claiming to have dismantled Hamas units before withdrawing. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remarked on the military's progress in dismantling Hamas' militant capabilities but indicated a continuation of efforts to eliminate any remaining threats.

Impact on Civilians

The ongoing conflict has significantly impacted the civilian population in Gaza. The displacement of a significant portion of Gaza's 2.3 million population due to Israeli offensives has led to repeated displacements, hindering humanitarian aid distribution. Israeli-imposed restrictions, ongoing hostilities, and societal disorder have compounded the humanitarian crisis, exacerbating food insecurity and raising concerns of widespread famine.

The European Hospital in Khan Younis was forced to evacuate hundreds of patients due to the Israeli army's order. At least one person was killed, and six others were injured following the shelling of a house in the eastern area of Khan Younis. The situation in Gaza remains dire, with widespread hunger and limited access to aid due to the conflict's disruptions.

Broader Context

The conflict between Israel and Hamas has been ongoing for nearly nine months, triggered by a Hamas-led attack on southern Israel on October 7, which resulted in the deaths of approximately 1,200 people and the capture of over 250 hostages. Israel's retaliatory offensive has so far killed nearly 38,000 people, according to Gaza’s health ministry, and left the heavily built-up coastal enclave in ruins.

The displacement and humanitarian crisis have drawn international attention, with calls for a ceasefire and increased humanitarian aid. The Kerem Shalom crossing, a crucial entry point for aid into southern Gaza, has been particularly affected, impeding the delivery of essential supplies.

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