WORLD NEWS Palestinians in southern Gaza wonder where to escape to...

Palestinians in southern Gaza wonder where to escape to amid Israel military evacuation orders | CBC News


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Israel ordered people out of swathes of the main southern city in the Gaza Strip on Monday as it pressed its ground campaign deep into the south, sending desperate residents fleeing even as bombs fell on areas still described as safe.

Israel’s military posted a map on X on Monday morning with around a quarter of the city of Khan Younis marked off in yellow as territory that must be evacuated at once. Three arrows pointed south and west, telling people to head toward the Mediterranean sea and the Egyptian border.

Many of those taking flight were already displaced from other areas, many sleeping rough under makeshift shelters with their few remaining belongings in plastic bags.

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At a home in Khan Younis that was struck overnight, flames licked the collapsed masonry and grey smoke billowed out from the rubble. Boys were picking through the wreckage with bare hands.

Next door, Nesrine Abdelmoty stood amid damaged furniture in the rented room where she lives with her divorced daughter and two-year-old baby.

“We were sleeping at 5:00 a.m. when we felt things collapse, everything went upside down,” she told Reuters. “They told [people] to move from the north to Khan Younis, since the south is safer. And now, they’ve bombed Khan Younis. Even Khan Younis is not safe now, and even if we move to Rafah, Rafah is not safe as well. Where do they want us to go?

Smoke rises at the site of a house destroyed in an Israeli strike in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on Monday. (Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters)

Ground operation ongoing

As many as 80 per cent of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have fled their homes in an Israeli bombing campaign that has reduced much of the crowded coastal strip to a desolate wasteland. Medical officials in the enclave say the bombing has killed more than 15,500 people, with thousands more missing and feared buried in rubble.

Israel launched its assault to annihilate Gaza’s ruling Hamas Islamists in retaliation for an Oct. 7 attack by its gunmen, who killed 1,200 people including several Canadians, and seized about 240 hostages. Dozens of hostages, mainly women and children, were released during a nearly weeklong truce that ended on Nov. 30, with Israel saying there are still 136 hostages unaccounted for.

An older boy holds a small child on his shoulder as he stands amid concrete rubble and debris outdoors.
A Palestinian boy carrying a baby stands at a site of Israeli strikes, in the Rafah district of Gaza on Monday. (Mohammed Salem/Reuters)

Israeli forces largely captured the northern half of Gaza in November, and since the truce collapsed, they have swiftly pushed deep into the southern half. Tanks driving into Gaza from the border fence in the east along the road that divides Khan Younis from the city of Balah al-Deir farther north have reached a flour mill halfway to the Mediterranean coast, cutting off the main north-south road, residents say.

“The IDF [Israel Defence Forces] continues to extend its ground operation against Hamas centres in all of the Gaza Strip,” Israel’s top military spokesperson, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, told reporters in Tel Aviv overnight. “The forces are coming face-to-face with terrorists and killing them.”

It released footage of troops patrolling in tanks and on foot, in fields and in badly damaged urban areas, and firing from weapons, without specifying the location inside Gaza.

Government spokesperson Eylon Levy said the military had struck more than 400 targets over the weekend “including extensive aerial attacks in the Khan Younis area” and had also killed Hamas militants and destroyed their infrastructure in Beit Lahiya in the north.

Israel risks ‘strategic defeat’: Pentagon chief

The United Nations humanitarian office said the southern areas ordered evacuated since the truce were home to more than 350,000 people before the war, not counting the hundreds of thousands now sheltering there from other areas.

Israel permitted additional humanitarian supplies to enter the enclave during the truce, but the United Nations says this was paltry compared to the territory’s vast humanitarian need, and has now been interrupted by the renewed fighting.

Several military personnel in caps are seen standing at an outdoor ceremony.
Israeli soldiers mourn fellow soldier Col. Asaf Hamami, who was killed defending Kibbutz Nirim during the deadly Oct. 7 attack by the Palestinian militant group Hamas, in Tel Aviv on Monday. (Shir Torem/Reuters)

Israel’s closest ally the United States has publicly called on Israel to do more to safeguard civilians in the southern part of the Gaza Strip than in last month’s campaign in the north, especially as there are so many people already homeless there.

U.S. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a speech in California on Saturday that the Israeli military offensive must minimize civilian casualties.

“The centre of gravity is the civilian population and if you drive them into the arms of the enemy, you replace a tactical victory with a strategic defeat,” Austin said.

Day 610:10Why the temporary ceasefire in Gaza could pave a new path for U.S. policy in the Middle East

Featured VideoHeavy fighting resumed in Gaza on Friday after negotiators failed to extend the temporary truce between Hamas and Israel. Policy analyst Nancy Okail says the ceasefire still represented a significant breakthrough — and an opportunity for the U.S. to overhaul its long-standing policy towards the Middle East.

The U.S. has provided significant military aid to Israel and the USS Carney, part of the USS Gerald R. Ford carrier group deployed to the eastern Mediterranean after the Oct. 7 attacks, shot down three drones from Houthi-controlled territory as it helped commercial vessels in the Red Sea over the weekend.

Yemen’s Houthi movement said its navy had attacked two Israeli ships, Unity Explorer and Number 9, with an armed drone and a naval missile. A spokesperson for the group’s military said the two ships were targeted after they rejected warnings, without elaborating.


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