ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 148

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Jews, Israelis worldwide urged to stay safe on 'day of rage'

IDF warns civilians to leave north Gaza; Ashkelon takes heavy rocket fire, none hurt

Hamas urges residents to not follow ‘propaganda’ order, as US gives wary support; UN decries it as impossible to carry out, Israeli envoy says UN turned ‘blind eye’ to Hamas arming

  • Palestinians flee to safer areas in Gaza City after Israeli air strikes, on October 13, 2023. (MOHAMMED ABED/AFP)
    Palestinians flee to safer areas in Gaza City after Israeli air strikes, on October 13, 2023. (MOHAMMED ABED/AFP)
  • Fire and smoke rise above buildings in Gaza City during an Israeli air strike, on October 13, 2023. (Mahmud Hams / AFP)
    Fire and smoke rise above buildings in Gaza City during an Israeli air strike, on October 13, 2023. (Mahmud Hams / AFP)
  • Palestinians inspect the rubble of buildings hit by an Israeli airstrike at Al Shati Refugee Camp in Gaza on Thursday, Oct. 12, 2023. (AP/Hatem Moussa)
    Palestinians inspect the rubble of buildings hit by an Israeli airstrike at Al Shati Refugee Camp in Gaza on Thursday, Oct. 12, 2023. (AP/Hatem Moussa)
  • Palestinians look for survivors after an Israeli airstrike in the Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, Thursday, Oct. 12, 2023. (AP/Hatem Ali)
    Palestinians look for survivors after an Israeli airstrike in the Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, Thursday, Oct. 12, 2023. (AP/Hatem Ali)
  • The scene where a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip by Palestinian terrorists hit in the southern city of Sderot. October 12, 2023. (Erik Marmor/Flash90)
    The scene where a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip by Palestinian terrorists hit in the southern city of Sderot. October 12, 2023. (Erik Marmor/Flash90)
  • Rockets fired from the Gaza Strip are intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome defense missile system over the southern city of Sderot on October 12, 2023. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
    Rockets fired from the Gaza Strip are intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome defense missile system over the southern city of Sderot on October 12, 2023. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
  • Israeli soldiers patrol on October 12, 2023 near Kibbutz Beeri. (Aris MESSINIS / AFP)
    Israeli soldiers patrol on October 12, 2023 near Kibbutz Beeri. (Aris MESSINIS / AFP)
  • Palestinians carrying their belongings flee to safer areas in Gaza City after Israeli air strikes, on October 13, 2023. (MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)
    Palestinians carrying their belongings flee to safer areas in Gaza City after Israeli air strikes, on October 13, 2023. (MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)

The Israel Defense Forces on Friday warned civilians in the northern Gaza Strip to evacuate their homes, as it appeared set to intensify its attacks on terrorist targets in the Gaza City region and possibly launch a ground invasion in response to Hamas’s deadly onslaught against southern communities.

The order came as morning broke on the seventh day of the Israel-Gaza war, with the military pressing its widespread air offensive and a total siege on the Strip, which according to international aid organizations has left it on the edge of a humanitarian disaster.

Meanwhile, Hamas bombarded the southern city of Ashkelon with rockets Friday, with incessant sirens wailing in the city as the terror group said it had launched over 150 rockets toward it. Though Iron Dome interceptors destroyed many of the incoming projectiles, several got through. One rocket slammed into a home and another smashed into cars on a street. There were no reports of injuries, with residents huddled up in shelters.

Hamas vowed “many more” rockets would be launched in the coming hours.

The White House gave wary backing to the IDF’s evacuation call, terming it a “tall order,” but noting that the United States understood Israel was trying to give Gaza civilians “fair warning.”

“We understand what they’re trying to do. They’re trying to move civilians out of harm’s way,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told CNN. “Now it’s a tall order. It’s a million people, and it’s very urban, dense environment. It’s already a combat zone. So I don’t think anybody’s underestimating the challenge here of effecting that evacuation.”

According to the UN, 340,000 Gazans have been displaced since Israel began its campaign, prompted by Hamas-led terrorists rampaging through southern communities in a massacre that has left over 1,300 Israelis dead, with another 150-200 estimated to have been abducted to the Strip.

Gazan terrorists cut back on rocket fire overnight, with the military’s Home Front Command saying the relatively slow rate of rocket attacks from the Strip indicated Hamas was preparing itself for an extended fight.

At the same time, the terror group issued a call for a “day of rage” in the West Bank as well as by supporters worldwide, and fears were high for attempted attacks on Jews and Israelis.

Damage from a rocket impact in Ashkelon, October 13, 2023. (Courtesy: fire and rescue services)

IDF orders evacuation of northern Gaza

In its statement Friday, the IDF said it “calls for the evacuation of all civilians of Gaza City from their homes southwards for their own safety and protection, and to move to the area south of Wadi Gaza, as shown on the map.”

“The Hamas terrorist organization waged a war against the State of Israel, and Gaza City is an area where military operations take place. This evacuation is for your own safety,” the notice read. “You will be able to return to Gaza City only when another announcement permitting it is made. Do not approach the area of the security fence with the State of Israel.”

A fireball erupts from an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City on October 12, 2023. (Photo by MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)

“Hamas terrorists are hiding in Gaza City inside tunnels underneath houses and inside buildings populated with innocent Gazan civilians,” it said, urging residents to distance themselves from terrorists “who are using you as human shields.”

In response, Hamas told residents to stay in their homes: “Do not follow the propaganda evacuation instructions.” The group is known to try and force residents to ignore such notices given by the military.

Meanwhile, the United Nations called for the order to be withdrawn, asserting that the IDF had given 24 hours for the evacuation, saying that evacuating 1.1 million people would be impossible.

“The United Nations considers it impossible for such a movement to take place without devastating humanitarian consequences,” it said in a statement. “The United Nations strongly appeals for any such order, if confirmed, to be rescinded avoiding what could transform what is already a tragedy into a calamitous situation.”

A Palestinian carrying bread walks past damaged cars and debris in front of a school run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) following Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City on October 9, 2023. (Mahmud HAMS/AFP)

IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said the army was aware the evacuation could take several days and stressed that Israel was targeting Hamas and did not want to harm Palestinian civilians.

He said the order was intended to enable “freedom of action and to deepen the damage” done to Hamas. He added that Hamas was responsible for any harm to civilians who do not evacuate

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan labeled the UN statement a “disgrace.”

“For years now the UN has been ‘turning a blind eye’ to the arming of Hamas and its use of civilians to hide its murderous instruments. And now, instead of standing with Israel after the Hamas massacre, they dare to preach to us when Israel tries to minimize harm to civilians,” he said.

“At the moment, the only matter the UN needs to focus on is the return of hostages to Israel. This is the more pressing humanitarian crisis,” he said.

Amid the looming ground offensive, the government has also begun evacuating residents of the southern city of Sderot.

IDF presses air offensive, confirms at least 120 Israelis abducted

Hagari said that in the past day, there had been a number of clashes between troops and terrorists along the Gaza border fence, but few incidents in Israeli territory.

The IDF believes it located the vast majority of terrorists who infiltrated Israel last weekend, and that no more have managed to infiltrate into the country in recent days.

Hagari also said the IDF was still focusing efforts on eliminating senior Hamas members.

The IDF said it carried out airstrikes against some 750 targets belonging to Hamas and other terror groups in the Gaza Strip overnight Thursday.

Among the targets were 12 multi-story towers, which the IDF said contained Hamas assets. The military said it also struck three Hamas operatives responsible for mortar fire on Israel in recent days. The trio were targeted at a military command center in Gaza City, according to the IDF.

Other targets included tunnels, military compounds, residences of senior members used as military command centers, weapons storage warehouses, and communications rooms, the IDF said.

Hagari said the IDF was “preparing for the next stages of the war.”

He added that the military has so far notified the families of 120 hostages being held by terror groups in the Gaza Strip.

“It keeps us up at night, and many efforts are concentrated on this matter,” Hagari says.

Referring to claims that hostages have been killed in Israeli strikes, Hagari said “There are many statements from Hamas, we will only report reliable information.”

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said 1,537 Palestinians had been killed and another 6,612 wounded in Israeli airstrikes in the Strip since fighting began on October 7. It did not differentiate between members of armed groups and civilians. Israel said it is targeting terrorist infrastructure and all areas where Hamas operates or hides and that Israeli forces have killed some 1,500 Hamas terrorists who infiltrated into its territory since Saturday.

Late afternoon Thursday, the Israeli military bombarded a residential building in the densely populated Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza, killing at least 45 people and injuring dozens more, Gaza’s Hamas-run interior ministry said.

Smoke plumes billow during Israeli air strikes in Gaza City on October 12, 2023. (Ibrahim Hams / AFP)

The airstrike hit the al-Shihab family home at the center of the Jabaliya camp, interior ministry spokesperson Eyad Bozum told The Associated Press. The al-Shihab house was packed with dozens of relatives at the time of the airstrike, Bozum said, with some having fled heavy bombing from other parts of the Gaza Strip and taken refuge there.

The Israeli military did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the strike. The IDF says it is targeting Hamas and that the terror group embeds itself and its weapons within civilian populations.

The Israeli bombardments are seen as part of the preparations for a likely ground assault, which could see the IDF forced to engage in brutal urban warfare.

Israel’s prime minister and defense minister have both stated their intention to “wipe Hamas off the face of the Earth,” with the terror group believed to have military infrastructure entrenched throughout the Strip.

Gaza health system ‘at breaking point’

Following the Hamas terror assault, the worst single attack in Israel’s history, Jerusalem cut off electricity and water that the Jewish state supplies to the Strip, saying there would be no letup in the siege until the scores of abducted Israelis were returned home.

Amid the worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza, The World Health Organization said Friday that Gaza’s health system “is at a breaking point” amid the near-constant aerial bombardment.

“Time is running out to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe if fuel and life-saving health and humanitarian supplies cannot be urgently delivered to the Gaza Strip amidst the complete blockade,” the WHO said, adding that hospitals were running on a few hours of electricity a day and were rationing supplies that were bound to run out.

“As injuries and fatalities continue to rise due to the ongoing air strikes on the Gaza Strip, acute shortages of medical supplies are compounding the crisis, limiting the response capacity of already overstretched hospitals to treat the sick and injured,” the WHO added.

The WHO said it has documented 34 attacks on healthcare in Gaza since last Saturday that have resulted in the death of 11 health workers on duty, 16 injuries, and damages to 19 health facilities and 20 ambulances.

The WHO called for an end to the fighting and the immediate establishment of a humanitarian corridor.

With Israel sealing off the Palestinian enclave following the Hamas onslaught, the only way in or out is through the crossing with Egypt at Rafah. While Rafah is not officially closed, airstrikes have largely prevented it from operating. Egypt has been trying to persuade Israel and the United States to allow the delivery of aid and fuel through Rafah but has refused to take in refugees.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators march during a protest at Columbia University, Thursday, Oct. 12, 2023, in New York. (AP/Yuki Iwamura)

‘Day of rage’

Israel’s Foreign Ministry and the National Security Council issued a joint statement urging all Israelis abroad to take extra care on Friday, citing Hamas’s call on its supporters worldwide to participate in a “day of rage.”

The group called for mass rallies in the West Bank, Jerusalem, and throughout the Arab and Muslim world on Friday in support of its fight against Israel, leading Jewish communities around the world to up their security.

The group hailed the achievements of its armed wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, and called on young Palestinians in the West Bank to “rise up and go out in roaring crowds” to clash with settlers and soldiers.

It also addressed Arab Israelis, asking them to gather at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa compound on the Temple Mount, to prevent Jews from “desecrating it” and “building on it.”

The site, the third holiest for Muslims and holiest for Jews, is one of the major flashpoints of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with many Palestinians and Muslims around the world denying that the site is sacred to Jews and viewing any Jewish entry as a provocation. It is revered by Jews as the location of the two ancient temples destroyed in antiquity. Known to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif or the Noble Sanctuary, the hilltop compound is home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Hamas also extended an appeal to Palestinians in the diaspora, as well as “the free people of our Arab and Islamic nation all around the world,” to gather in “the closest point to Jerusalem” in order to show their solidarity with the terror group and stop the “Israeli plans to Judaize Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa.”

Israel has repeatedly denied plans to change the status quo on the Mount, but Palestinians have pointed to the growing number of Jews visiting the compound in recent years, particularly during religious festivals.

Israelis abroad were recommended to “show alertness, stay away from protests and demonstrations, and if possible get updates from local security forces about possible protests and incidents of unrest around them.”

As the day began, a convoy of about 15 cars and motorcycles in the Arab Israeli city of Umm al-Fahm in support of Hama was dispersed, police said, adding that four participants were arrested.

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