- The UN says Israel’s demand that northern Gaza be cleared out in 24 hours is “impossible.”
- A mass human exodus would have “devastating humanitarian consequences,” a UN spokesperson said.
- The IDF told Insider it urges all civilians to flee to avoid being used as Hamas’ “human shields.”
A United Nations spokesperson says Israel has imposed an “impossible” demand for more than 1 million people to get out of northern Gaza in the span of 24 hours.
Late Thursday local time, just before midnight Friday, the Israeli Ministry of Defense and the Israel Defense Forces informed the UN that everyone living in northern Gaza needs to evacuate the area within 24 hours, per a statement provided to Axios, The New York Times, and CNN.
The UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric told Axios that meant the more than 1.1 million people living north of Wadi Gaza needed to flee south — abandoning their homes, hospitals, and shelters.
“The United Nations considers it impossible for such a movement to take place without devastating humanitarian consequences,” Dujarric told Axios.
“The United Nations strongly appeals for any such order, if confirmed, to be rescinded, avoiding what could transform what is already a tragedy into a calamitous situation,” Dujarric said.
In a statement to Insider, the IDF made no mention of a 24-hour deadline but said it urges all civilians in Gaza City to move south “for their own safety and protection” and to avoid being used as “human shields” for Hamas.
“The Hamas terrorist organization waged a war against the State of Israel and Gaza City is an area where military operations take place. This evacuation is for your own safety,” the IDF statement read. “You will be able to return to Gaza City only when another announcement permitting it is made. Do not approach the area of the security fence with the State of Israel.”
The order for all residents of northern Gaza to evacuate comes amid rumblings that Israel is mobilizing reservists for a massive ground offensive into Gaza.
The Gaza Strip — home to more than 2 million people — is a blockaded territory surrounded by an Israeli-controlled perimeter. Limited crossing points exist between the territory and its neighboring countries.
Israel said on Thursday that it has dropped more than 6,000 bombs on the Gaza Strip. These air strikes are retaliation for a series of violent Hamas attacks on October 7, when militants stormed Israel. Hamas fighters have killed about 1,200 Israelis and injured another 3,000, the Israel Defense Forces said on Thursday.
Since October 7, at least 1,537 Palestinians have been killed in air strikes, and 6,612 others have been injured, the Palestinian Health Ministry said on Thursday evening.
Representatives for the UN did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.