01 Dec 2023, 17:20

Israeli military issues Gaza evacuation zone map

  JERUSALEM, Dec 1, 2023 (BSS/AFP) - The Israeli military on Friday published
a map of what it called "evacuation zones" in the Gaza Strip, after
international demands to create safe areas where civilians can shelter from
devastating bombardments.

A truce pausing fighting between Israel and Hamas in the Palestinian
territory expired Friday and hostilities resumed immediately, with Israeli
forces bombarding several areas and Palestinian militants firing rockets
towards Israel.

The map, which is in Arabic and zoomable on the military's website, divides
the Gaza Strip into hundreds of numbered sectors.

The military said it was intended to enable residents to "evacuate from
specific places for their safety if required".

Residents in multiple numbered areas were sent SMS warnings on Friday.

"The IDF will begin a crushing military attack on your area of residence with
the aim of eliminating the terrorist organisation Hamas," the warnings said,
urging people to seek some shelter.

"Stay away from all military activity of every kind," they added.

Around 10 minutes later the explosions started. Mobile networks in the Gaza
Strip can be slow, with SMS deliveries sometimes taking several minutes.

The territory's Hamas-run government says more than 15,000 people were killed
in the first phase of the war, and images of wholescale destruction,
particularly in northern Gaza, have raised concerns in the international

The conflict between Israel and Hamas is now in its eighth week after the
Palestinian militants stormed across the border from Gaza on October 7 into
southern Israel, killing some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and seizing 240

The Hamas-run government in Gaza says more than 15,000 people, also mostly
civilians, have since been killed by Israeli bombardments.

Visiting the region on Thursday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged
Israel to minimise innocent Palestinian casualties, "including by clearly and
precisely designated areas... where they can be safe and out of the line of

In its announcement, the military said Hamas "turns civilian sites into
military targets while using civilians and civilian facilities as a human

The map was intended to enable residents "to orient themselves and understand
the instructions, and to evacuate from specific places for their safety if
required", it added.

The military did not immediately respond when asked by AFP how much notice
was given to residents before an assault.

During the first phase of the war, Israel urged civilians in the northern
Gaza Strip to relocate to the southern part of the territory, but UN reports
indicate that a third of those killed died south of the boundary line.