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Why Israel ordered yet another evacuation of Gaza’s Khan Younis | Israel-Palestine conflict News

Why Israel ordered yet another evacuation of Gaza’s Khan Younis | Israel-Palestine conflict News

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For nearly nine months, Israel’s war on Gaza has forced Palestinians to run from place to place in search of pockets of safety in the besieged Strip.

Israel’s latest mass evacuation order told 250,000 displaced people in Khan Younis, Gaza’s second-largest city, to leave, as it carries out renewed attacks in southern Gaza.

The order comes as fierce fighting traps Palestinians in Rafah, in the south of the Gaza Strip, and the Shujayea neighbourhood in Gaza City in the north.

Here’s everything you need to know about what’s happening in Khan Younis:

INTERACTIVE-GAZA-evacuation orders- MAP-JULY2-2024-1719924071
[Al Jazeera]

Where were Palestinians in Khan Younis told to flee to? Is it safe?

The Israeli army first told Palestinians to “evacuate immediately to the humanitarian zone”, without specifying where.

About 13 hours later, a post on X told people to head to the “al-Mawasi humanitarian zone”.

While Israel calls al-Mawasi – a seaside strip that runs as far north as Deir el-Balah – a “humanitarian zone”, it has also launched attacks on people there.

At least 25 people were killed in two Israeli attacks on al-Mawasi on June 21, and some 21 people in another attack on May 28, according to Palestinian officials.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) was forced to evacuate its base in the Khan Younis part of al-Mawasi on June 29 due to safety concerns.

Is the European Hospital also being evacuated?

The Israeli army claimed on X its evacuation order does not apply to the European Hospital, which falls in the zone.

However, PRCS reported that patients were being transferred to nearby hospitals due to the order, a preparation for a possible ground assault.

European Hospital staff were told to evacuate, Jeremy Hickey, an anaesthesiologist with Fajr Scientific who was volunteering there, told Al Jazeera.

Videos Al Jazeera’s fact-checking unit Sanad verified showed entire hospital departments and areas where displaced people were sheltering being emptied.

The forced displacement puts them all at great risk, Hickey said.

“Moving them out is extremely difficult because access to transport is extraordinarily expensive … but also because of the sustained and long-term nature of many patients’ injuries,” he told Al Jazeera.

“Mobilising [them] is nearly impossible and transporting these patients via ambulances is nearly impossible, as well,” he added.

How soon will an Israeli military operation happen in Khan Younis after the evacuation?

The evacuation order likely implies “Israeli forces will enter the area within 24 hours”, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) and the Critical Threats Project (CTP) said in their latest battlefield report.

Israeli forces had pulled out of the city on April 7, claiming victory over Hamas, but then Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) fighters recently launched 20 rockets towards Israel from the eastern parts of the city.

The report said “clearing operations” in that area are expected.

Israel’s actions in Khan Younis in April, when they claimed to have “destroyed Hamas battalions”, had already left much of the city in ruins.

Has Khan Younis been evacuated before?

People in Khan Younis have been told to evacuate multiple times throughout the war, as the city suffered Israeli assaults:

[Al Jazeera]

December 5, 2023: Israeli forces surrounded Khan Younis, thousands of Palestinians fled to neighbouring Rafah.

February 14, 2024: Israel ordered the evacuation of Khan Younis’s Nasser Hospital, as Israeli snipers fired on anyone moving on or around the hospital grounds.

April 8, 2024: Israeli troops withdrew from Khan Younis in preparation for a ground invasion of neighbouring Rafah, leaving the city in ruins.

May 6, 2024: Displacement camps in Khan Younis swelled after Israel ordered 1.4 million Palestinians seeking shelter in neighbouring Rafah to evacuate.

June 23, 2024: Israeli tanks approached the al-Mawasi “safe zone” between Rafah and Khan Younis, days after an Israeli attack killed 25 people there, forcing thousands more Palestinians to flee to Khan Younis.

How are Palestinians dealing with this latest Israeli order?

The lack of fuel in Gaza means people are walking for miles or using animal carts as they flee, according to Al Jazeera’s Hani Mahmoud in Deir el-Balah.

“This constant movement and enforced displacement is taking its toll on a population that has been traumatised and displaced for the past nine months,” he said.

Ahmed al-Bairam told the Reuters news agency there was no time to take any of his belongings after the Israeli orders.

“God knows where we will go tomorrow.

“We came from the eastern area then we moved to the European hospital, then we went to Rafah, then we came back to Bani Suheila, then we returned to Nasser Hospital and now we just went up to the Somood camp,” al-Bairam added.

“This time we did not take anything with us,” he said. “There is no transportation… I have children with me and they all walk.”

Why is the Israeli army issuing evacuation orders for previously declared ‘safe zones’?

Israel’s move indicates its inability to achieve its goal of “eliminating Hamas” and its intent to exhaust the Palestinian population in Gaza, according to Luciano Zaccara, a professor of Gulf politics at Qatar University’s Gulf Studies Center.

“This demonstrates that they cannot win the war because they wanted to eliminate Hamas physically and politically, but so far the group is still there,” Zaccara told Al Jazeera.

“It also proves that Israel wants to win this war by exhausting the people,” he added.

“In this way, it creates much more trouble and harm for Palestinians who cannot stay for more than one month or 15 days in one place.”

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