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Israeli military issues Gaza evacuation zone map

Tan KW
Publish date: Sat, 02 Dec 2023, 07:09 AM
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JERUSALEM: The Israeli military on Friday published a map of what it called "evacuation zones" in the Gaza Strip, after international demands to create safe areas where civilians can shelter from devastating bombardments.

A truce pausing fighting between Israel and Hamas in the Palestinian territory expired Friday and hostilities resumed immediately, with Israeli forces bombarding several areas and Palestinian fighters firing rockets towards Israel.

The map, which is in Arabic and zoomable on the military's website, divides the Gaza Strip into hundreds of numbered sectors.

The military said it was intended to enable residents to "evacuate from specific places for their safety if required."

Residents in multiple numbered areas were sent SMS warnings on Friday.

"The IDF will begin a crushing military attack on your area of residence with the aim of eliminating the Hamas," the warnings said, urging people to seek some shelter.

"Stay away from all military activity of every kind," they added.

Around 10 minutes later the explosions started. Mobile networks in the Gaza Strip can be slow, with SMS deliveries sometimes taking several minutes.

The territory's Hamas-run government says more than 15,000 people were killed in the first phase of the war, and images of wholescale destruction, particularly in northern Gaza, have raised concerns in the international community.

The conflict between Israel and Hamas is now in its eighth week after the fighters stormed across the border from Gaza on October 7 into southern Israel, killing some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and seizing 240 hostages.

The Hamas-run government in Gaza says more than 15,000 people, also mostly civilians, have since been killed by Israeli bombardments.

Visiting the region on Thursday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged Israel to minimise innocent Palestinian casualties, "including by clearly and precisely designated areas... where they can be safe and out of the line of fire."

In its announcement, the military said Hamas "turns civilian sites into military targets while using civilians and civilian facilities as a human shield."

The map was intended to enable residents "to orient themselves and understand the instructions, and to evacuate from specific places for their safety if required", it added.

The military did not immediately respond when asked by AFP how much notice was given to residents before an assault.

During the first phase of the war, Israel urged civilians in the northern Gaza Strip to relocate to the southern part of the territory, but UN reports indicate that a third of those killed died south of the boundary line.

 -AFP

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