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    Israel opens another ‘safe passage’ for Gazans to move south
    • October 16, 2023

    Galit Altstein, Henry Meyer and Salma El Wardany | (TNS) Bloomberg News

    Israel announced another “safe corridor” in Gaza as it urges civilians to move to the south of the territory from the north, where it’s concentrating the bulk of its military activities.

    The Israel Defense Forces said it would “refrain from targeting a designated axis” between 8 a.m. and midday local time on Monday “to allow safe evacuation from north c to the area south of Wadi Gaza and Khan Yunis.”

    Israel has made similar daily announcements since Saturday. The military is urging civilians to move for their own safety and last night said that 600,000 people had left northern Gaza. Israel is blaming Hamas for trying to stop civilians evacuating. It has emphasized that the safe corridor does not amount to a ceasefire.

    Over one million people, around half the total population of Gaza, have already been displaced, according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which serves Palestinian refugees. It said 400,000 have taken refuge in UNRWA facilities, “much exceeding our capacity to assist in any meaningful way, including with space in our shelters, food, water or psychological support.

    According to the United Nations, the IDF initially set a 24-hour deadline for the evacuation when it was first called for on Friday. The UN said that would involve the movement of 1.1 million people, most of them in and around Gaza City, and would be “impossible.” Israel denies it ever gave a deadline of 24 hours.

    Israel is widely expected to launch a ground assault on Gaza as it looks to “wipe out” Hamas following the group’s Oct. 7 attacks, which killed at least 1,300 Israelis. More than 2,650 people have since been killed in Gaza because of Israeli airstrikes.

    The enclave, which is ruled by Hamas, is now under a near-total blockade. Israel isn’t allowing people or goods in or out and has cut power to it.

    Convoys of humanitarian aid are lined up in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula waiting to cross into Gaza, according to the head of the Egyptian Food Bank, an aid organization. That’s in anticipation of the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt being opened for a short while to allow aid deliveries, though none of the Egyptians, Israelis or Hamas have confirmed that will happen.

    Israel said that 199 people are confirmed to have been taken as hostages to Gaza during the Oct. 7 attacks, when Hamas and other militants swarmed into southern Israel and rampaged through communities and military bases.

    Hezbollah Tensions

    Separately on Monday, the IDF said it would evacuate residents of northern Israel, near the border with Lebanon. Tensions there are rising with Hezbollah and the Israeli military exchanging fire frequently.

    Israeli residents living within 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) of the border will be moved to state-funded guest houses. Israel has already evacuated communities and towns near Gaza in the south.

    The IDF said its response to a more aggressive action from Hezbollah, one of the most powerful militias in the Middle East, would be “lethal.”

    Hamas and Hezbollah are both backed by Iran and designated as terrorist groups by the US.

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