Palestinians are fleeing south after the Israeli government ordered the evacuation of northern Gaza amid beginning raids on the region.
Israeli military operations have begun in northern Gaza ahead of an expected land offensive approximately a week after Hamas launched its initial attacks.
Hamas is urging residents to ignore Israeli calls for evacuation.
Israel Defense Forces spokesman Jonathan Conricus shared the message he said was sent to citizens in Gaza on X, formerly Twitter, Friday morning.
“The IDF calls for the evacuation of all civilians from Gaza City from their homes southwards for their own safety and protection and to move to the area south of the Wadi Gaza, the river Gaza, as shown on the map,” Conricus said.
Israeli Defense Forces say that Hamas terrorists are hiding in “terror tunnels” beneath houses and civilian buildings and has called on civilians to leave the area before soldiers move in to destroy Hamas.
However, the United Nations and other international bodies have complained that the scale and timeframe on the evacuation orders are an unreasonable burden.
United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini called the evacuation order “horrendous” in a statement predicting the escalating Israeli response to Hamas terror attacks will “lead to unprecedented levels of misery and push people in Gaza into the abyss.”
Lazzarini said more than 423,000 Gaza citizens have been displaced since the outbreak of war on Saturday, more than 270,000 of which have taken refuge in UNRWA shelters.
The Palestinian health ministry reports that 2,125 Palestinians have been killed and another 8,714 were wounded in Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip since war broke out on Oct. 7.
The Israeli military has said the bodies of about 1,500 Hamas terrorists were found in Israeli territory after Hamas launched its surprise terror attack on Israel, killing as many as 1,300 Israelis.
Thousands more have been wounded, and many others have been taken hostage by Hamas and raped, tortured and murdered.