IDF Evacuation Orders Hint at Possible Military Operations in Southern GazaNovember 16, 2023
Leaflets dropped from Israeli planes across southern parts of the Gaza Strip urged civilians to flee, signaling a potential expansion of Israel’s ongoing military operations in the coastal enclave. The leaflets said, “For your safety, you need to evacuate your places of residence immediately and head to known shelters. Anyone near terrorists or their facilities puts their life at risk, and every house used by terrorists will be targeted.”
Similar leaflets were dropped over northern Gaza before Israel ramped up its retaliatory efforts in the Strip, triggered by Hamas’ attack on Oct. 7. The warnings were followed by Israeli tanks and a steady stream of soldiers, all of them tasked with wiping out the terrorist group.
The latest evacuation orders specifically targets Bani Shuhaila, Khuzaa, Abassan and Qarara, located on the eastern edge of the southern town of Khan Younis. Residents said the area came under heavy bombardment overnight into Thursday.
The towns, collectively home to more than 100,000 people before the start of the war, are now sheltering tens of thousands more who were forced to flee from the north ahead of Israel’s ground offensive. Refugees have sought cover in schools and U.N shelters while others have erected makeshift tents. The overcrowding has triggered food and water shortages across the region.
An expansion of Israeli operations into the south — where civilians are already subjected to daily air raids — will only exacerbate an already devastating humanitarian crisis in the besieged territory. Over 1.5 million people, more than half of the population of the Strip, have been internally displaced.
In Northern Gaza, the raid inside al-Shifa, the territory’s largest hospital, continued on Thursday. The medical facility had been under siege for days, with IDF forces closing in from all sides, before soldiers stormed the complex on Wednesday, searching for any trace of Hamas. The IDF has since released images of AK-47s, hand grenades, military uniforms and a laptop with a photo of a kidnapped Israeli, allegedly uncovered within the hospital; the claims have not been independently verified.