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Israel Orders Evacuations in North and South Gaza as Deaths Top 35,000

Israeli forces are intensifying their campaigns across the strip, unleashing what some say are the worst bombings yet.

People walk past the ruins of buildings destroyed by Israeli bombardment in Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza on March 22, 2024.

Israel is unleashing what some Palestinians have described as the worst bombings in Gaza yet as it has issued mass evacuation orders in the northernmost and southernmost parts of the region, displacing hundreds of thousands of starving, ill and exhausted Palestinians who have no safe place to go.

On Saturday, Israel issued a second set of evacuation orders in Rafah in the eastern part of the city, while also forcing Palestinians in Beit Lahia and Jabalia in the north to flee as Israeli forces drove tanks deep into the Jabalia refugee camp and raided shelters there. Though Israel has attacked Jabalia many times throughout its genocide, the military is once again carpet bombing the neighborhood.

Israel has also begun intensifying its ethnic cleansing campaign in the central and southern parts of Gaza, essentially bombarding every region of the strip.

Evacuation orders have affected an estimated 100,000 people still sheltering in Jabalia. At the same time, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) has estimated that 360,000 Palestinians have fled Rafah since Israel’s first evacuation order last week, with the number growing rapidly by the day.

The areas that Israel is forcing Palestinians to evacuate to from Rafah are essentially destitute. Al-Mawasi, where those in Rafah have been forced to go, is already full, with 450,000 people sheltering in an area that has no running water or other infrastructure. Khan Yunis, the nearest city to Rafah, has already been essentially leveled by Israeli forces in recent months.

Even as Israel has escalated its offensive in Rafah and other parts of the region, U.S. officials have largely remained mum on the issue of suspending weapons shipments, despite President Joe Biden’s pledge that he would withhold some “bunker buster” bombs if Israeli forces invaded Rafah.

Israel is continuing its near-total blockade of humanitarian aid in the region. Health officials warned on Monday that the health system in Gaza had mere hours left of functionality before it would run out of fuel and collapse. This will lead to horrific consequences for Palestinians, with nowhere to go to get even basic illnesses treated, much less the complicated cocktail of maladies caused by Israel’s genocidal campaign of constant bombings, starvation, dehydration and the ending of sanitation services.

The Gaza health ministry relies largely on hospitals’ tallies in order to count deaths in Gaza, as well as public and media sources. Without hospitals and with telecommunications going down intermittently or being destroyed by Israeli forces, and with hundreds of thousands experiencing famine and disease, it’s unclear how accurately health officials will be able to track future deaths due to Israel’s genocide.

Some hospitals and health centers in Gaza are already in a blackout due to a shortage of fuel, while Israeli forces have ordered the evacuation of one of the last hospitals in the Rafah area — the Kuwaiti Hospital, with only 16 beds. According to Medical Aid for Palestinians, only 12 of 36 hospitals are still functioning, though at an extremely limited capacity, as of Monday.

Humanitarian groups are “scraping the bottom of the barrel” for resources, as UNICEF said on Friday. Israeli forces allowed a mere six trucks of flour through the Karem Abu Salem crossing and some fuel on Friday and Saturday as food aid organizations warned of rapidly depleting supplies; the main entry point for aid, the Rafah crossing, is still closed after it was seized by Israeli forces last week.

A small fraction of the extremely limited aid that has entered through Rafah in recent months has entered through a “Western Erez” crossing that Israeli forces opened on Sunday.

Humanitarian groups have warned that the horrors that come with this little aid entering the region are indescribable, with some characterizing Israel’s blockade as a “medieval siege” due to its destruction of Gaza’s health, aid, water and sanitation systems.