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Israel’s New Evacuation Order Affects 250,000 in Southern Gaza, Says UN

The UN agency supporting Palestinian refugees estimated Tuesday that a quarter of a million people had been impacted since Israel’s army issued a new evacuation order for parts of southern Gaza a day earlier.

“We’ve seen people moving, families moving, people starting to pack up their belongings and try to leave this area,” UNRWA spokeswoman Louise Wateridge told reporters in Geneva via video-link from Gaza.

The agency “estimates that around 250,000 people have been impacted by these orders”, she said, adding: “We expect these numbers to grow”.

Her comments came after the Israeli army Monday issued a new evacuation order for parts of Khan Yunis and Rafah in southern Gaza.

The 250,000 number was UNRWA’s estimate for the people in the area of new evacuation orders in eastern Khan Yunis, Louise Wateridge told AFP.

“We expect that almost all of these people will move from this area,” she said, adding that the agency hoped to get a better idea later Tuesday of the numbers who have physically left.

Monday’s evacuation order followed mass displacement from large parts of Rafah that began with a similar order nearly two months ago, which signalled the start of a long-feared Israeli ground offensive.

The fighting since then has again uprooted many Palestinians and led to the closure of a key aid crossing.

“This is another devastating blow to the humanitarian response here,” Louise Wateridge said.

“It’s another devastating blow for the people and the families on the ground. It seems that they are forcibly being displaced again, and again.”

She pointed out that following the start of the Rafah incursion in May, people had flooded back into the largely destroyed Khan Yunis area.

“And now already, because of the orders last night, the same families are having to move again,” she said.

“There is absolutely no safe place in the Gaza Strip.”

Gaza’s deadliest war began with Hamas’s October 7 attack on southern Israel, which resulted in the deaths of 1,195 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.

The militants also seized 251 hostages, 116 of whom remain in Gaza including 42 the army says are dead.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive aimed at eradicating the Palestinians militants in Gaza has killed at least 37,925 people, also mostly civilians, according to data from the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory.

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