Palestinians Try to Escape Gaza

Israel tells residents to leave, Hamas says to stay
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 14, 2023 5:30 PM CDT
Thousands Flee North Gaza
An Israeli soldier flashes a V-sign from an armored personnel carrier heading toward the Gaza Strip border in southern Israel on Saturday.   (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Palestinians struggled Saturday to flee areas of Gaza targeted by the Israeli military while grappling with a worsening water and medical supply shortage ahead of an expected land offensive, a week after Hamas' attack on Israel. Israel renewed calls on social media and in leaflets dropped from the air for Gaza residents to move south, the AP reports, while Hamas urged people to stay in their homes. The United Nations and aid groups have said such a rapid exodus would cause untold human suffering, especially for hospitalized patients, older adults, and others unable to relocate.

The evacuation directive covers an area of 1.1 million residents, or about half the territory's population. The Israeli military said "hundreds of thousands" of Palestinians had already heeded the warning and headed south. It said Palestinians could travel within Gaza without being harmed along two main routes from 10am to 4 pm local time, per the AP. It was not clear how many Palestinians remained in north Gaza, said a spokesperson for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees. "What we know is that hundreds of thousands of people have fled. And that 1 million people have been displaced in total in one week," she said. Families in cars, trucks, and donkey carts packed with possessions crowded a main road heading away from Gaza City as Israeli airstrikes continued to hammer the territory.

Rows of tanks and armored personnel carriers were assembled in fields near the Israeli border, facing Gaza, per the New York Times, in preparation for the offensive that Israel said will come soon. "The citizens are relying on us to defeat Hamas and remove the threat from Gaza once and for all," said Shai Levy, a tank driver who's a rabbi. Hamas expressed defiance on Saturday. A leading official said in a televised speech that "all the massacres" will not break the Palestinian people in Gaza. (More Israel-Hamas war stories.)

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