The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) mandated the evacuation of the northern Gaza Strip within 24 hours, hinting at a possible imminent ground incursion aimed at eradicating Hamas elements, coinciding with an unexpected visit by U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to Israel. The evacuation order encompasses Gaza City, the Jabalia refugee camp, and the towns of Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahiya, among other areas, affecting an estimated 1.1 million people. The United Nations, through spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric, implored the IDF to retract the order, citing inevitable “severe humanitarian consequences.” The IDF, asserting that Hamas has embedded itself within civilian populations in Gaza City, maintains that the evacuation is crucial for safeguarding civilians amidst ongoing military operations and has warned of significant operations in the coming days.
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