After ordering residents of Gaza City to evacuate, IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari stresses that Israel does not want to harm Palestinian civilians.
“We are fighting a terror group, not the Gazan population. We want civilians not to be harmed, but we cannot live with the rule of Hamas-ISIS near our border,” Hagari says in a call with reporters.
He says the order to evacuate Palestinians from the area is intended to enable “freedom of action and to deepen the damage” against Hamas.
“Hamas carried out one of the most horrific acts the world has seen, we are carrying out an effort to evacuate residents in order to deepen the damage, to collapse this organization,” Hagari says.
After the UN says such an evacuation within 24 hours would be impossible, Hagari says, “We understand it will take several days.”
“We are conveying [the warning] through communication channels and in Arabic, there are ways for the message to reach the population,” he adds. “Whoever does not listen to these recommendations, puts his family in danger.”
He says 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 has located the vast majority of terrorists who infiltrated Israel last weekend, and that no new terrorists have managed to infiltrate into the country in recent days.
Hagari also says the IDF is still focusing its efforts to kill senior Hamas members.