Many civilian families are fleeing to the south of the Gaza Strip after Israel told them to evacuate within 24 hours for their “safety and protection” before Israel invades Gaza.
However Gaza residents cannot evacuate to Israel which almosts surround the slip. There are no flights out of the Gaza strip, and it is difficult to evacuate by sea.
At the south end of the Gaza strip is the frontier with Egypt, however Egypt is known to be extremely reluctant to form refugee camps on its territory, pleading poverty, but also fearful that once established, refugee camps might be impossible to get rid off again.
The UN and the World Health Organization have both criticised the Israeli move to tell the population of Gaza to evacuate, highlighting the potential humanitarian impact.
Israel’s 24-hour deadline for 1.1 million people in northern Gaza to relocate to the south is “utterly unrealistic,” the European Union’s top diplomat Josep Borrell has said.
While acknowledging that Israel has given civilians a warning about incoming military operations, he said, such warnings should be realistic.
“This is utterly unrealistic that 1 million people can move in 24 hours,” he said at a news conference in Beijing, adding that any warnings have “to be realistic in order to avoid devastating humanitarian consequences.”
While the European Union’s position is “Israel has the right to defend itself” in the wake of aggression, “it has to be done in line with international humanitarian law,” Borrell said.
The Israeli military said it understood the evacuation would take longer than its timeframe.
Meanwhile, Hamas urged people to ignore the warning to evacuate even as Israeli bombing of the Gaza strip continues day and night.
One refugee camp inside Gaza was heavily bombed and more than 50 people are believed dead underneath the rubble.
Hamas continues to fire rockets from Gaza into southern Israel. A BBC team on the ground saw a strike targeting Ashkelon. Hamas’s military wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, are claiming to have fired 150 rockets in one barrage this morning
Thousands of demonstrators have already gathered in Iraq, Jordan and Indonesia, and protests are also expected at the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem after Friday prayers. It follows calls from senior Hamas and Hezbollah figures for rallies to take place
People around the world are holding vigils and rallies in support of Israel after the mass murders by Hamas at the weekend. Relatives continue to mourn the more than 1,300 people killed.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has met President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas in Jordan. He earlier visited Israel, where he promised America’s country’s unwavering support.
But he also told Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu that it “must operate by the rules of war” in its response to the Hamas attacks. US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is now in Israel for talks and EU chiefs are also visiting.
Sources: BBC, news agencies.