GAZA — Palestinians said they had received renewed warnings from Israel’s military to move from north Gaza to the south of the strip, with the added warning that they could be identified as sympathisers with a “terrorist organisation” if they stayed put.
The message was delivered in leaflets marked with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) name and logo from Saturday (Oct 21) and sent to people via mobile phone audio messages across the Gaza Strip, a narrow territory that is just 45km long.
“Urgent warning, to residents of Gaza. Your presence north of Wadi Gaza puts your life in danger. Whoever chooses not to leave north Gaza to the south of Wadi Gaza might be identified as an accomplice in a terrorist organisation,” the leaflet said.
Israel has pounded Gaza with airstrikes since the Palestinian militant group Hamas launched a deadly attack on Israeli soil on Oct 7. Israel has massed troops and armour on the border with Gaza ahead of an expected land incursion.
The Israeli military said in a statement it had “no intention to consider those who have not evacuated… as a member of the terrorist group”.
It added that it did not target civilians.
“In order to minimise civilian harm, the IDF sent a request to the residents of the northern area of the Gaza Strip to evacuate southward of Wadi Gaza,” it said.
Israel has previously urged Palestinians to move south, although Palestinians said they had not previously been told they could be considered “terrorist” sympathisers if they did not. They also say making the journey south remains highly risky amid airstrikes and say areas of the south have also been hit.
Many families who left Gaza to the south said they had lost relatives during the Israeli airstrikes in southern Gaza. REUTERS