Israel’s evacuation orders in the Gaza Strip now cover two-thirds of the territory, United Nations humanitarian monitors said on Tuesday.
The affected area was home to 1.78 million Palestinians, or 77% of Gaza’s population, before the Israel-Hamas war erupted on October 7, triggered by a deadly Hamas attack on southern Israel.
Early on in the war, Israel’s military began ordering Palestinians in the northern half of the territory to leave their homes, ostensibly to get out of the way of eventual ground combat.
At the same time, Israeli aircraft continued to attack in the southern half, where residents had been told to take refuge.
Israel says it only goes after Hamas targets and argues that Hamas is responsible for harm to civilians because it operates from within civilian sites.
Gaza health officials have put the Palestinian death toll in the territory at more than 27,000.
They do not differentiate between combatants and civilians in the count but have said two-thirds are women and children.
Throughout the war, evacuation orders eventually expanded to parts of the south, including the city of Khan Younis and surrounding areas, the current focus of Israel’s ground offensive.
Tens of thousands of people have fled and continue to flee, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on Tuesday in its latest daily report on the humanitarian situation in Gaza.
More than half of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million people is now crammed into the town of Rafah on the border with Egypt and surrounding areas, OCHA said.
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