An Israeli order giving more than one million Palestinians just 24 hours to evacuate to south Gaza would push people “into the abyss,” the United Nations has warned.
UN officials have warned that the movement of an estimated 1.1 million people from north Gaza to the south was “impossible” and would spark a “bone-chilling” humanitarian crisis.
They have “strongly” appealed to Israel to rescind the order.
Gaza’s Health Ministry had told journalists it had no means of evacuating the wounded to the South, as all hospitals across the strip were full, and the most critical cases could die en route.
The unprecedented decision applies to almost half the population of the tiny besieged strip and wass feared to be a precusor to a ground invasion against the militant Hamas group that rules Gaza, which would bring a surge in casualties.
“The call from the Israeli forces to move more than one million civilians living in northern Gaza within 24 hours is horrendous. This will only lead to unprecedented levels of misery and further push people in Gaza into the abyss,” the United Nation’s Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) said shortly after the order was given.
“The scale and speed of the unfolding humanitarian crisis is bone-chilling. Gaza is fast becoming a hell hole and is on the brink of collapse,” the statement added.
UNRWA also said it would not evacuate its schools, where hundreds of thousands have taken shelter. But it relocated its headquarters to southern Gaza, according to spokesperson Juliette Touma.
Israeli army infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) deploy along the border with the Gaza Strip in southern Israel (AFP via Getty Images)
Gaza’s deputy health minister Yusuf Abu al-Reesh told The Independent an evacuation of the wounded in the north “was completely impossible.
“There are no extra beds in any hospitals anywhere for people to be transferred to. Also, most of the cases of the injured are unstable, they will die en route,” Dr Abu al-Reesh said from Gaza’s largest hospital, al-Shifa, which is at 150 per cent capacity.
“All the hospitals everywhere in Gaza, even after they have been expanded, are full of patients.
“No one can imagine what is going on on the ground,” he added, describing it as the new Nakba, the Arabic word for catastrophe that refers to the 1948 war of Israel’s creation that led to their mass dispossession.