Israel orders Palestinians to flee Khan Younis, signaling likely new assault on southern Gaza city

On Monday, the Israeli army ordered the mass evacuation of Palestinians in Khan Younis. This is a sign troops will likely launch a ground assault on Gaza’s second largest city.

Israel is pursuing Hamas militants who have regrouped in Khan Younis, according to the order. Many parts of Khan Younis were destroyed during a lengthy assault in early this year. However, many Palestinians fled to the area in order to avoid another Israeli offensive on Gaza’s southernmost town, Rafah.

Israel had held the director of Gaza’s former largest hospital for seven months, without charging him or bringing him to trial. Israel claimed that the hospital was used as a Hamas headquarters, but he and other Palestinian officials denied this. The doctor claimed that he, along with other detainees, were tortured and held in harsh conditions.

The decision to free Mohammed Abu Selmia has raised doubts about Israel’s claims regarding Shifa Hospital. Israeli forces have raided the hospital twice since the beginning of the Hamas war. After the raids, there was severe damage to the hospital.

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The release of Abu Selmia sparked a political storm across Israel. The Prime Minister’s Office called it a “grave mistake”. Government ministers, opposition leaders and other political figures expressed their outrage. They also insisted that Abu Selmia had played a part in Hamas’s alleged use the hospital.

Khan Younis evacuation

The evacuation order issued on Monday covered a large area of Gaza’s southeast corner, including the eastern half Khan Younis. The army reported earlier in the day that a barrage rockets from Gaza were fired out of Khan Younis.

As the night fell, a steady stream of people started to make their way out of evacuation zone. A woman was dragging a suitcase, with a child on top. Other people carried some essential items — mattresses, clothes, plastic buckets to wash in, and an electric fan. The trucks were filled with furniture and possessions.

Israel’s order to evacuate Khan Younis (the second largest city in Gaza) could lead to a new assault

Zeinab Ab Jazar, a woman who was displaced, told a reporter that she received a text message to evacuate on her mobile phone. “Look at the children and how they walk. We couldn’t find a vehicle to ride in.

Israel told the people to move to Muwasi. This coastal area, designated as a “safe zone” by the Israeli military, is now crowded with unsanitary and crowded tent camps.

The order implied a new attack on Khan Younis would be imminent. Israeli forces fought in Khan Younis for weeks earlier this year, then withdrew claiming they had destroyed Hamas Battalions. In other areas where the military made similar claims about Hamas, new raids have highlighted its capabilities.

The military ordered the evacuation of the Shijaiyah district in the north Gaza last week. Since then, there have been intense fighting.

Netanyahu stated Monday that his military is “making progress towards the end of the phase of destruction of Hamas terror army.” He added, however, that forces will “continue to target their remaining remains moving forward.”

Further fighting in the Khan Younis region could hinder Palestinians from accessing much-needed potable drinking water. Israel has installed a water pipe in the evacuation area after criticism of its early war cutoff.

Israel has also promised to protect the aid route that runs through the territory and the area around the Kerem Shalom border crossing.

Gaza’s 2.3 million residents have been displaced from their homes in large numbers, some even multiple times. Israeli restrictions, fighting, and a breakdown in public order has hindered humanitarian aid delivery, causing widespread hunger and stoking fears of famine.

U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres stated that the new evacuation order shows “that no place in Gaza is safe” for Palestinian civilians. In a call for a ceasefire, he said: “This is another stop in the deadly circular movement which the Gazan population has to endure on a regular base.”

Shifa Hospital Director’s Release

It appeared that the decision to return Abu Selmia, along with 54 other Palestinians detainees to Gaza was made to make room in overcrowded detention facilities. Israeli forces have been detaining thousands of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank since the beginning of the conflict. Administrative detention is a practice that holds many Palestinians without charges or a trial.

Abu Selmia said at a press conference that “our detainees were subjected behind bars to all types of torture.” “There was daily torture.”

He claimed that guards beat detainees with batons and terrorized the dogs. He claimed that some detainees’ limbs were amputated due to poor medical care. He claimed that a beating had caused his head to bleed, and guards had broken his finger.

These allegations were not independently verified, but they matched with other Palestinians’ accounts who had been in Israeli custody. The prison service has not responded to the allegations.

Israeli forces raided Shifa Hospital, claiming that Hamas created a complex command and control centre inside. Abu Selmia, along with other staff members, denied the claims and accused Israel for recklessly putting thousands of patients as well as displaced people who were sheltering in Shifa Hospital at risk. Abu Selmia, who was arrested on November 22, denied the allegations.

The military discovered a tunnel underneath the hospital that led to two empty rooms. They also found evidence of militants bringing wounded hostages into the facility. The evidence did not support the claim of a large base. Israel has raided Gaza hospitals since on similar accusations, forcing them shut down or drastically reduce their services.

The various Israeli state bodies responsible for detentions have scrambled in the wake of the controversy surrounding the release of Abu Selmia to find someone else to blame.

The office of Netanyahu said Abu Selmia ‘belongs in jail’ and that Prime Minister Netanyahu had ordered an extensive review into the circumstances surrounding the release. The office said that the decision had been made “without the knowledge or consent of the political echelon and the heads of organizations.”

Itamar Ben-Gvir, Israel’s far right national security minister, who controls the country‚Äôs police and prison services, has blamed the Defense Ministry.

The office of Defense Minister Yoav Galant said that prisoner release is the responsibility both of the prison system and Shin Bet, the internal security agency. The prison service stated that the Shin Bet, the army and the prison service made the decision to release him. A document signed by a reserve army general was released by the prison services.

Abu Selmia was reportedly a pass for the Shin Bet