Israel Just Ordered 1.1 Million People in Gaza to Leave Their Homes Within 24 Hours

The UN said the evacuation order, which comes ahead of a potential ground invasion, was “impossible” for Palestinian civilians to comply with.
Palestinians with their belongings flee from their homes following Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City on October 13. Photo: MAHMUD HAMS/AFP via Getty Images

Israel’s military has issued an evacuation order for everyone in northern Gaza over the next 24 hours ahead of a potential ground invasion, fuelling fears of a significant escalation in the violence and a looming humanitarian disaster.

The United Nations asked Israel to rescind the order, saying it would be “impossible” for the 1.1 million people who live in the area to leave their homes in that timeframe “without devastating humanitarian consequences.”


The Israeli Defence Forces said the evacuation order was for the safety of Palestinian civilians, while Hamas told Palestinians to ignore the order, saying it amounted to “fake propaganda.”

Around 2.3 million people live in Gaza, a thin coastal strip that is one of the world’s most densely-populated areas. It has been governed  since 2007 by Hamas, the Islamist group designated as a terror organisation by the US, UK and EU, whose fighters launched an unprecedented assault upon Israel last Saturday, October 7.

After storming out of Gaza, Hamas militants carried out a series of massacres against civilians, including children and babies, at villages, kibbutzim, towns and a music festival. More than 1,300 people were killed in the attacks, including 247 soldiers. At least 100 hostages were taken into Gaza, while Israel said 1,500 Hamas militants were killed.

Israel’s government vowed to destroy Hamas in response. It launched a devastating barrage of air strikes against Gaza, killing more than 1,500 people, and imposed what it called a “total siege” by cutting off supplies of fuel, electricity, food and water.

Under blockade since 2007, Gaza has been described as the world’s biggest open-air prison. An already dire humanitarian situation has been dramatically worsened by the strikes and siege.

Gaza’s only power station shut down on Wednesday, while hospitals are running out of medicine and medical supplies, as well as space to store bodies.

Gaza’s population of 2.3 million also has nowhere to go: currently the only way in or out is via the Rafah crossing with Egypt, but Egypt said it had been closed following air strikes.

Israel has said it will impose the “total siege” until Hamas releases hostages, while Hamas has threatened to execute hostages if the air strikes continue.