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Israel-Hamas War Live: Israeli Military Expands Southern Gaza Evacuation Orders

Confusion and fear gripped much of southern Gaza on Sunday as Israel’s military ordered more residents to clear out and fighting there intensified.

The Israeli military’s latest evacuation orders appeared to be setting the stage for a ground invasion in the south since hostilities started again after the collapse of a weeklong truce with Hamas. They evoked similar orders given by the Israeli military before it invaded northern Gaza in late October. But the announcements were prone to change with almost no notice, leaving many Gazans confused and with little time to flee.

“Dear residents of Gaza, obeying evacuation instructions is the safest way to preserve your safety, your lives and the lives of your families,” Israel’s military wrote on Arabic-language accounts on Facebook and X on Sunday, providing a growing list of areas that were under the evacuation order.

The list of areas had swelled from 19 the previous morning to 34 on Sunday, all clustered southeast of the city of Khan Younis. The Israeli military marked each on a map of Gaza that divided the territory into nearly 2,400 “blocks,” advising residents to pay attention to Israeli announcements about whether their block was being evacuated.

Some families whose homes and shelters were not included in the initial evacuation areas announced by Israel’s military, and who had thought they would be able to stay put, said they had later received recorded calls ordering them to leave.

Many people under evacuation orders had already been displaced at least once before, forced to leave northern Gaza when the fighting and the airstrikes began. Now they found themselves once again at a loss for where to go in an already overcrowded area under threat of bombardment.

“I cannot overstate the fear, panic & confusion that these Israeli maps are causing civilians in Gaza, including my own staff,” wrote Melanie Ward, head of the humanitarian organization Medical Aid for Palestinians, on social media, adding that “people cannot run from place to place to try to escape Israel’s bombs.”

On Sunday afternoon, a spokesman for the Gazan health ministry, Dr. Ashraf Al-Qudra, said 316 people had been killed in Israeli strikes “in the past hours.” He said that more than 15,500 people had been killed since Oct. 7, when the war began.

Hospitals in the south were also under pressure. A team from the World Health Organization visited a hospital in Khan Younis on Saturday that was three times over its capacity, according to the agency’s head, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“Countless people were seeking shelter, filling every corner of the facility,” he wrote on X. “Patients were receiving care on the floor, screaming in pain.”

The Israeli military’s evacuation map showed big orange arrows directing people toward already-overflowing shelters or what it called the “humanitarian zone” in Al-Mawasi, an agricultural area toward the Mediterranean Sea.

But it was not clear whether the zone provided sufficient supplies or shelter, with some Gazans who fled there describing little awaiting them and no visible presence of humanitarian aid.

The idea of “safe zones” in Gaza, as was envisioned for Al-Mawasi, is opposed by the United Nations. Last month, U.N. agencies and other groups said they would not participate in setting up any such zones in Gaza.

Yara Bayoumy contributed reporting.

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Nathan is an experienced journalist. He's covered a broad spectrum of topics, including politics, culture, and human interest stories, always aiming to engage and inform his audience. Nathan has a degree in Journalism and upholds the highest standards of integrity and accuracy in his work.

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