The Israeli Army informed the United Nations (UN) that all Palestinians in the northern region of the Gaza Strip must move south in the next 24 hours, indicating that it will invade the area.
In a statement, UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said the invasion where around 1.1 million Palestinians live would have “devastating humanitarian consequences”. “The UN strongly urges that any such order, if confirmed, be revoked, avoiding what could turn what is already a tragedy into a calamitous situation,” said Dujarric.
According to the Al Jazeera news agency, Hamas, the radical Palestinian group that runs the Gaza Strip, stated that the Israeli army’s evacuation warning was “false propaganda”. The group called on Palestinians living in northern Gaza to “remain strong in their homes and stand firm in the face of this disgusting psychological war waged by the Israeli occupation.”
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On Thursday afternoon (12), the Israeli Army stated that 300,000 soldiers are on the border with northern Gaza ready to invade the territory. “We will be ready if Israel’s democratic government decides to take this action,” said Major Roni Kaplan, spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces, during a press conference on Thursday afternoon (12).
Since Israel began attacking the Gaza Strip, following an offensive by the Palestinian group Hamas, last Saturday (7), around 2,700 attacks have been carried out in Gaza, according to Kaplan. Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right government in Israel claims that the targets are members of Hamas, who have already killed around a thousand Israelis. Human rights organizations, however, claim that Israel has been systematically attacking schools, hospitals and refugee shelters.
According to the communications director of the United Nations Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNHCR), Juliette Touma, nine agency employees have been killed since the start of the Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip.
“The protection of civilians is fundamental, including in times of conflict (…). They should be protected according to the laws of war,” said Touma, in an interview with the Associated Press. At the time of the attacks, the dead UN professionals were in their respective homes, spread throughout the territory of Gaza.
The director also stated that 18 schools belonging to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) were destroyed during Israeli bombings.
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On Wednesday (11), the UN Commission of Inquiry into the Occupied Palestinian Territory reported that there is “clear evidence” that Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right government is committing war crimes.
The delegation declared that it is “seriously concerned about Israel’s most recent attack on Gaza” and the “total siege” on Gaza, which involves blocking water, food, electricity, fuel and medicine. For the UN, “without a doubt, will cost civilian lives and constitute collective punishment.”
“The Commission urges Israeli security forces and Palestinian armed groups to strictly respect international humanitarian law and international human rights law”, says the United Nations, in the note.
Editing: Rodrigo Chagas