Palestinians in North Gaza Resist Israeli Evacuation Directives Amid Fears of Airstrikes and Overpopulated Shelters

by Sophia Chen
Palestinian Evacuation Resistance in North Gaza

Despite the alarming warnings from Israel about an impending and increasingly intense military operation aimed at Hamas, Mahmoud Shalabi chose not to vacate his residence in northern Gaza.

Shalabi is an aid worker for Medical Aid for Palestinians, a U.K.-based nonprofit focused on healthcare, and is one of the numerous Palestinians who have opted to stay. Some, who initially complied with Israel’s directive to move to the southern part of the territory, have even returned. Israel regards individuals who stay in the north as potential accomplices to Hamas.

Shalabi and others have articulated that retreating to the south isn’t a rational option, given the ceaseless aerial attacks there. They cited poor living conditions in the southern shelters, including insufficient supplies of food and water, as influencing their decision to remain.

The potential risks of remaining in the north are expected to escalate, particularly if Israel initiates a ground assault. Recent weeks have seen devastating bombardments leading to a death toll exceeding 6,500 in Gaza, according to statistics from the Gaza Health Ministry, which is operated by Hamas.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has confirmed preparations for a possible ground operation, although he did not disclose the timing. Israel’s military aim is to neutralize Hamas, which they hold responsible for a violent October 7 assault on Israeli border towns.

Approximately 350,000 Palestinians continue to reside in northern Gaza. Israeli military commands have consistently encouraged this population to move southward but have not clarified whether the presence of a large civilian populace would affect the decision to deploy ground forces.

International human rights organizations have sharply criticized the Israeli evacuation directives, asserting that they do not offer a viable warning to civilians as required by international law due to limited options for relocation.

In the northern part, the large-scale evacuation has led to a significant degradation in essential services. Houses are devoid of electricity, water, and fuel. Amidst the deteriorating conditions, more than 1.4 million residents of Gaza are displaced within the strip, out of a total population of 2.3 million.

Those who have chosen to remain are living in extremely challenging conditions, such as collapsed neighborhoods and depleted local supplies. Shalabi mentioned walking for two hours to find an operational bakery to feed his family, who are subsisting on canned food.

Financial resources are dwindling, and access to basic utilities such as ATMs is practically nonexistent. Meanwhile, Shifa Hospital in Gaza City is overcrowded and at the brink of shutting down due to fuel shortages, affecting its ability to treat the continuously incoming injured individuals.

Despite the arduous conditions, many are opting to return to the north, weary of the incessant movement from one location to another due to airstrikes. United Nations monitors estimate that approximately 30,000 have returned.

Ekhlas Ahmed, who is eight months pregnant, is one of those who have returned to the north after initially fleeing. She had to come back after the building where she took refuge in the south was targeted in an Israeli airstrike.

Reported by Magdy from Cairo, with contributions from Big Big News writer Jack Jeffrey in Cairo.

For more coverage, visit Big Big News.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Palestinian Evacuation Resistance in North Gaza

What is the main reason Mahmoud Shalabi and others have not evacuated northern Gaza despite Israeli warnings?

Mahmoud Shalabi, an aid worker for Medical Aid for Palestinians, and others have chosen not to evacuate due to a variety of reasons. Primarily, they argue that moving to southern Gaza, as advised by Israel, is not a safer option given the continuous aerial attacks in that region. Additionally, poor living conditions in southern shelters, including a lack of adequate food and water, have influenced their decision to stay.

Who are considered possible “accomplices” of Hamas according to Israeli authorities?

According to Israeli authorities, those who remain in northern Gaza are considered possible “accomplices” to Hamas, the militant group that Israel is targeting.

What are the anticipated consequences of an Israeli ground offensive in northern Gaza?

An Israeli ground offensive is expected to significantly escalate the risks for civilians remaining in northern Gaza. With heavy bombardments already leading to more than 6,500 deaths, a ground invasion would likely result in more casualties and create fierce fighting in densely populated areas.

How have international rights groups responded to the Israeli evacuation orders?

International human rights organizations have sharply criticized Israel’s evacuation orders. They argue that these directives cannot be considered effective warnings to civilians, as mandated by international law, due to the limited and dangerous options available for those looking to flee.

What is the current state of essential services in northern Gaza following the evacuation orders?

Essential services have considerably deteriorated in northern Gaza after Israel’s evacuation order. Most homes are without electricity, water, or fuel. Over 1.4 million residents of Gaza are now displaced, leading to overcrowded shelters and dire shortages of essential supplies.

What is the estimated number of Palestinians who have returned to northern Gaza?

According to United Nations monitors, an estimated 30,000 Palestinians have returned to the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

How is the healthcare system coping with the current situation in Gaza?

The healthcare system is under extreme strain. Shifa Hospital, the largest in Gaza City, is overwhelmed with a steady inflow of wounded individuals from airstrikes. There are warnings that severe fuel shortages could trigger a shutdown of the hospital, severely affecting its capacity to treat the injured.

What are the living conditions like for those who have chosen to stay in northern Gaza?

Those who have remained in northern Gaza are facing extremely difficult living conditions. Entire neighborhoods have been reduced to rubble, and essential supplies are scarce. Many are surviving on canned food and walking long distances to find basic necessities.

Who contributed to the reporting of this situation?

The situation was reported by Magdy from Cairo, with additional contributions from Big Big News writer Jack Jeffrey, also in Cairo.

More about Palestinian Evacuation Resistance in North Gaza

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JohnDoe47 October 26, 2023 - 10:07 pm

Wow, this is a grim situation. seems like there’s no good options for the people stuck in this mess. And the international community? Where are they…

OpenMind21 October 26, 2023 - 10:27 pm

Healthcare system on the verge of collapse, and still ppl are being asked to move to already overcrowded shelters? Where’s the sense in all of this?

AmytheAnalyst October 27, 2023 - 1:18 am

6,500 lives already lost and still counting. Ground offensive would be catastrophic. When will this end?

GlobalThinker October 27, 2023 - 5:15 am

The international community needs to step up. Condemnation isn’t enough, action needs to be taken. Where are the peace talks?

CrypticEye October 27, 2023 - 5:45 am

That part about being considered “accomplices” just by staying put is mind boggling. Whats the logic in that?

TravellerInTime October 27, 2023 - 6:27 am

If international law has something to say, why isn’t it being enforced. Talk about a failure at a global level.

SkepticalTom October 27, 2023 - 11:14 am

Evacuation warnings that are not realistic are essentially meaningless. It’s like telling someone to jump off a cliff to avoid a fire.

Eco_Warrior October 27, 2023 - 1:43 pm

Amidst all this, imagine running out of basic things like water and fuel. Day to day survival becomes a challenge in itself.

SarahM1986 October 27, 2023 - 3:17 pm

I can’t even imagine having to make a choice like that. Mahmoud Shalabi’s situation is just heartbreaking, and he’s just one person outta thousands.

Realist_Steve October 27, 2023 - 6:28 pm

The numbers alone are staggering. 1.4 million displaced out of 2.3 million? That’s more than half the population. Unreal.


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