Iran on Saturday warned Israel to immediately halt its “war crimes” against Gaza or it could face “a huge earthquake” of resistance.
More than 320 Palestinians have been killed in the past 24 hours, including many women and children in Israeli air raids on convoys fleeing Gaza City, according to health officials.
The rising death toll comes as Israel continues bombing Gaza a day after telling 1.1million residents to head south ahead of a looming ground offensive following Hamas’s attack inside Israel last week.
At least 2,215 Palestinians have been killed and 8,714 wounded in Israeli air attacks on Gaza. The number of people killed in Israel has reached 1,300, with more than 3,400 wounded. The Palestinian health ministry said Israeli airstrikes had killed 724 children by yesterday, of the over 2,000 Palestinians killed in the past week.
In the occupied West Bank, the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli fire in the past week has topped 50. More than 1,000 have been wounded and hundreds arrested.
The Israeli military said it was planning an attack by land, air and sea, according to a statement, but gave no timing or specifics.
Daily Trust on Sunday reports that Israel has warned 1.1m Palestinians living in northern Gaza to evacuate to south; and thousands have been fleeing by vehicles or on foot.
The United Nations has said it is “impossible” for 1.1m Palestinians, about half of the 2.3million people in Gaza to evacuate because there is no place to go.
Meanwhile, BBC Verify has confirmed that women and children were killed when a strike hit their vehicles as they headed away from northern Gaza
This is as thousands of Palestinians sought refuge yesterday after Israel warned them to evacuate the northern Gaza Strip ahead of an expected ground offensive against Hamas, one week after the deadliest attack in Israel’s history.
The alarm has grown over the fate of Palestinian civilians in blockaded and besieged Gaza – one of the world’s most densely populated areas – if it becomes the scene of intense urban combat and house-to-house fighting.
“The situation in Gaza has reached a dangerous new low,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, adding, “Even wars have rules,” he added, stressing that “civilians must be protected and also never used as shields.”
Israel, which has vowed to destroy Hamas, has massed ground forces and tanks around Gaza, dropped leaflets in the north of the enclave telling civilians to flee and staged “localised” raids.
The raids have also sought to locate “missing persons” inside Gaza, the military said, as Hamas has been holding some 150 hostages, whose families have been protesting inside Israel for the release of their relatives.
Al Quds Hospital defies Israeli evacuation order
As thousands flee northern Gaza towards the south, Al Quds Hospital, one of the overstretched health facilities operated by the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS), refused to follow the orders of the Israeli government that it should evacuate by 4pm local time yesterday.
In a statement posted on the organisation’s X 9, formerly Twitter) handle, the PRCS – equivalent to the Red Cross in many countries – said it would continue with its mandate to attend to the sick and the wounded.
“PRCS-Al Quds Hospital is offering live-saving services to a large number of Palestinian patients and the wounded, including critical cases in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and children in incubators, in addition to hundreds of civilians who took refuge at the hospital.
“Accordingly, PRCR cannot evacuate the hospital, and by its mandate is bound to continue the provision of services to the sick and wounded,” the statement noted in part.
North Gaza resident: ‘We prefer to die in dignity’
Meanwhile, it remains unclear how many Palestinians have stayed in northern Gaza after Israel ordered all 1.1million there to leave immediately.
“What we know is that hundreds of thousands of people have fled. And one million people have been displaced in total in one week,” said Juliette Touma, a spokesperson for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.
A Gaza resident, Rami Swailem said he and at least five families in his building decided to stay put in his apartment near Gaza City. “We are rooted in our lands. We prefer to die in dignity and face our destiny.”
An estimated 35,000 displaced civilians have crammed into the grounds of Gaza City’s main hospital, sitting under trees in the empty grounds, as well as inside the building’s lobby and corridors, hoping they would be protected from the attacks.
“People think this is the only safe space after their homes were destroyed and they were forced to flee. Gaza City is a frightening scene of devastation,” said Dr Medhat Abbas, a health ministry official.
With no aid in sight, Gaza doctors warn of humanitarian disaster
Doctors at Shifa Hospital, the largest medical complex in Gaza City, have warned of an impending infectious disease outbreak due to overcrowding.
“There are thousands – if not tens of thousands – of people who have flocked to the hospital,” surgeon Ghassan Abu Sitta told Al Jazeera.
“They are sleeping on the ground, in the corridors between patients’ beds. People are absolutely terrified. They think this is the safest place, and everything around them confirms that.
“Unless there is respite there is going to be a public health catastrophe at the hospital,” he said.
Thousands of Pro-Palestinian protesters march in UK, US
Thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters yesterday took to the streets across the United Kingdom (UK), including in London and Manchester.
In London, more than 1,000 police officers were deployed as crowds marched from the BBC’s New Broadcasting House to Downing Street.
The Met Police said seven people had been arrested, including one for criminal damage and two for public order offences.
The protest came a week after Hamas launched an unprecedented attack on Israel.
Similarly, thousands of people also marched in New York City to support Palestinians and raise awareness about Israeli bombings in the Gaza Strip.
Protests were seen across multiple neighbourhoods in the sprawling United States city, with demonstrators chanting “Free Palestine” and calling for an end to Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land.