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    HomeWorldIsrael calls for civilians to leave Gaza City as 'significant operation' looms

    Israel calls for civilians to leave Gaza City as ‘significant operation’ looms

    • “Civilians of Gaza City, evacuate south for your own safety and the safety of your families and distance yourself from Hamas
    • terrorists who are using you as human shields,” the military said in a statement.
    • Israeli military said it struck 750 military targets in northern
    • Gaza overnight

    JERUSALEM/NEW YORK/TEL AVIV, Oct 13 (Reuters) – Israel’s military on Friday called for all civilians of Gaza City, more than 1 million people, to relocate south within 24 hours, as it amassed tanks near the Gaza Strip ahead of an expected ground invasion.

    “Now is a time for war,” Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said on Thursday as Israeli warplanes continued pounding Gaza in retaliation for the weekend attacks by Hamas militants that killed more than 1,300 Israelis, mostly civilians.

    The Israeli military said it would operate “significantly” in Gaza City in the coming days and civilians would only be able to return when another announcement was made.

    “Civilians of Gaza City, evacuate south for your own safety and the safety of your families and distance yourself from Hamas terrorists who are using you as human shields,” the military said in a statement.

    “Hamas terrorists are hiding in Gaza City inside tunnels underneath houses and inside buildings populated with innocent Gazan civilians.”

    A Hamas official said the Gaza relocation warning was “fake propaganda” and urged citizens not to fall for it.

    The United Nations said it considered it impossible for such a movement of people to take place “without devastating humanitarian consequences.”

    Israel’s ambassador to the U.N., Gilad Erdan described the U.N.’s response to Israel’s early warning to the residents of Gaza as “shameful”.

    Israel has vowed to annihilate the Hamas militant group which led the attacks on Saturday.

    The Israeli military said it struck 750 military targets in northern Gaza overnight, including what it said were Hamas tunnels, military compounds, residences of senior operatives and weapons storage warehouses.

    However, a ground invasion of Gaza poses serious risk with Hamas holding scores of hostages kidnapped in the assault.

    The Gaza Strip, home to 2.3 million people, is under siege by Israel, which has pounded Hamas targets in the enclave and killed more than 1,500 Palestinians in retaliatory attacks since the weekend incursions.

    The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said fuel powering emergency generators at hospitals in Gaza could run out within hours and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned food and fresh water were running dangerously low.

    “The human misery caused by this escalation is abhorrent, and I implore the sides to reduce the suffering of civilians,” ICRC regional director Fabrizio Carboni said.

    The United Nations Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) said it had relocated its central operations centre and international staff to Gaza’s south.

    “We urge the Israeli Authorities to protect all civilians in UNRWA shelters including schools,” the agency said on social media platform X.


    Seeking to build support for its response, Israel’s government showed U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and NATO defence ministers graphic images of children and civilians they said Hamas had killed in a weekend rampage in Israel.

    Blinken said they showed a baby “riddled with bullets,” soldiers beheaded and young people burned in their cars. “It’s simply depravity in the worst imaginable way,” he said. “It’s really beyond anything that we can comprehend.”

    Like others across the globe, Blinken urged Israel to show restraint, but he also reiterated America’s support, saying: “We will always be there by your side.”

    On Friday he was due to meet Jordan’s King Abdullah and Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Palestinian Authority in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, as part of a Middle East tour aimed at stopping spillover from the war.

    Blinken also planned to visit key U.S. allies Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates – some with influence on Hamas, an Islamist group backed by Iran.

    Israel’s military chief, Lieutenant General Herzi Halevi, said lessons would be drawn from the security failures around Gaza that enabled the attack. “We will learn, investigate, but now is the time for war,” he said.

    Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan on Friday held a call with his Emirati counterpart to discuss the humanitarian situation in Gaza, a Turkish foreign ministry source said.

    Turkey has offered to mediate the conflict and wants to send humanitarian aid to Palestinians affected by the fighting. Fidan will travel to Egypt on Friday for talks on regional issues.

    Turkey’s foreign ministry urged citizens in Lebanon on Friday to stay away from the country’s south because of fighting between Israeli and Palestinian forces there.

    The U.S. military is placing no conditions on its security assistance to Israel, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said, adding Washington expected Israel’s military to “do the right things” in prosecuting its war against Hamas.

    Austin was due in Israel on Friday and planned to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

    Hamas called on Palestinians to rise up on Friday in protest at Israel’s bombardment of the enclave, urging Palestinians to march to East Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque and clash with Israeli troops in the occupied West Bank.


    The U.S. State Department will begin offering charter flights to Europe to help Americans leave Israel if they want starting Friday, the White House said.

    Japan has arranged for a charter flight to depart Tel Aviv on Saturday for its citizens wishing to leave Israel, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters on Friday.

    The conflict spurred some civil unrest in Europe, with police in Paris using tear gas and water cannon to break up a banned rally in support of the Palestinian people. Some Jewish schools in Amsterdam and London were set to close temporarily due to safety concerns.

    U.S. law enforcement officials in New York and Los Angeles said they had a stepped up police presence for Friday, especially around synagogues and Jewish community centers, but some officials sought to play down the threat.

    The Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee, an Arab advocacy group, said on Thursday that FBI agents had visited mosques in different states and individual U.S. residents with Palestinian roots, calling it a “troubling trend.”
    In Jerusalem, scores of Israelis gathered at the Mount Herzl military cemetery on Thursday to bury their dead.

    “When you didn’t take my call, I knew you were fighting with all your power. When I realised you were missing, I could not imagine this is how it would end,” one mourner said.

    In Gaza’s main southern city Khan Younis, where cemeteries were already full, dead were being buried in empty lots, like the Samour family, killed on Wednesday night in a strike that hit their house.

    Palestinian rescue worker Ibrahim Hamdan drove from one bomb site to another as his team tried to pull survivors from houses destroyed by the Israeli air strikes.

    “This war is harsh beyond imagining,” said Hamdan, who has worked through repeated wars since becoming a rescuer in 2007. “They knock down high-rise buildings on top of their residents.”

    Gazans, mainly descendants of refugees who fled or were expelled from homes in Israel at its founding in 1948, have suffered economic collapse and repeated Israeli bombardment under a blockade since Hamas seized power there 16 years ago.

    Palestinian anger has mounted in recent months, with Israel carrying out the deadliest crackdown for years in the West Bank and its right-wing government talking of seizing more land. A peace process meant to create a Palestinian state collapsed a decade ago, which Palestinian leaders say left the population with no hope, strengthening extremists.

    Reporting by Henriette Chacar, Dedi Hayun, Maayan Lubell and Emily Rose in Jerusalem, Michelle Nichols in New York, Emma Farge in Geneva, Jeff Mason in Washington, Humeyra Pamuk in Tel Aviv, Steve Gorman and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Writing by Michael Martina and Michael Perry; Editing by Howard Goller, Diane Craft and Lincoln Feast

    Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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    Humeyra Pamuk is a senior foreign policy correspondent based in Washington DC. She covers the U.S. State Department, regularly traveling with U.S. Secretary of State. During her 20 years with Reuters, she has had postings in London, Dubai, Cairo and Turkey, covering everything from the Arab Spring and Syria’s civil war to numerous Turkish elections and the Kurdish insurgency in the southeast. In 2017, she won the Knight-Bagehot fellowship program at Columbia University’s School of Journalism. She holds a BA in International Relations and an MA on European Union studies.



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