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UN humanitarians warn against Israeli evacuation orders in Gaza City

A mosque in Gaza City lies in ruins (file).
A mosque in Gaza City lies in ruins (file).

UN humanitarians warn against Israeli evacuation orders in Gaza City

Humanitarian Aid

Israel’s order for people to leave Gaza City on Wednesday “will only fuel mass suffering for Palestinian families", many of whom have been displaced multiple times, the UN relief coordination office, OCHA, has warned. 

The directive, issued by the Israeli military, follows evacuation orders affecting several parts of the city in recent days.

“These civilians must be protected – and their essential needs must be met, whether they flee or stay,” OCHA said.

“This is what we mean when we say that all parties must respect international humanitarian law, at all times.”

Ceasefire talks resume

The situation is unfolding as a new round of negotiations towards a ceasefire in Gaza resumed in Doha, Qatar, on Wednesday.

“We're obviously following these developments very closely. The Secretary-General is being kept informed,” said UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric, speaking in New York.

“Our message to the parties is to find the political courage to reach this deal - for the sake of the people of Gaza, for the sake of the people of Israel, for the sake of the hostages, to make this deal.”

Aid efforts affected

Meanwhile, the UN and partners continue efforts to support displaced communities across Gaza.

OCHA noted, however that the evacuation orders “are also forcing the humanitarian community to reset their aid operations over and over again.”

“Aid workers are responding, but what they can deliver falls far short of needs,” UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Muhannad Hadi, said on Wednesday in a post on the social media platform X, formerly Twitter. 

He stressed that “more funding is urgently needed – as is a safe, enabling environment inside Gaza.”

Mr. Hadi visited Deir Al-Balah on Tuesday, where he witnessed firsthand the consequences of the breakdown in public order and safety as he entered and exited the Kerem Shalom crossing, OCHA reported.

“He saw groups of men with sticks waiting for trucks to leave the Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza. All trucks he passed were badly damaged, with broken windshields, mirrors and hoods,” the agency added.

The Humanitarian Coordinator also observed bags of fortified flour from the World Food Programme (WFP) and UN agency assisting Palestine refugees (UNRWA) scattered alongside the road coming out of Kerem Shalom.

The top official “also saw that the city of Khan Younis has largely been reduced to sand and rubble, without a single structure left untouched.”

Meeting with Palestinian women

While in Gaza, Mr. Hadi met with women’s groups who told him about the harrowing conditions at sites for displaced people. 

Many women have cut off their hair due to lice, difficulties in accessing shampoo and other personal hygiene products, and the lack of privacy, for example. Others voiced despair over the inability to provide for their families, especially for relatives living with disabilities and those who are sick. 

Women also reported on how extreme overcrowding in displacement sites can lead to tensions within communities. They also said that overcrowding, despair and the breakdown in public order and safety are fueling an increase in sexual and gender-based violence. 

Mr. Hadi also visited the IMC Field Hospital in Deir Al-Balah, together with the Regional Director of the World Health Organization (WHO), Hanan Balkhy. 

“Mr. Hadi said he was humbled to see how doctors and nurses provided trauma care for hundreds of patients with severe wounds, despite nearly impossible operational conditions, including the inability to get basic medical supplies such as gauze,” the agency said. 

West Bank attacks 

OCHA also reported on Wednesday that it has documented more than 1,000 Israeli settler attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank since October, leading to casualties and damage to property, trees and saplings. 

Nearly 1,400 people, including 660 children, in more than two dozen Bedouin and herding communities have been displaced during the same period due to settler violence and access restrictions. 

OCHA added that Israeli forces in the West Bank killed 14 Palestinians between 2 and 8 July, the vast majority during two operations in the Jenin and Tulkarm cities and their adjacent refugee camps.