Panic, confusion and chaos in northern Gaza after IDF evacuation warning

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)

The IDF’s evacuation order for northern Gaza has set off a flurry of panic, according to accounts from inside the Strip.

“This is chaos, no one understands what to do,” Inas Hamdan, an officer at the UN Palestinian refugee agency in Gaza City, tells AP, grabbing whatever she could throw into her bags as the panicked shouts of her relatives could be heard around her. She says all the UN staff in Gaza City and northern Gaza have been told to evacuate south to Rafah.

Nebal Farsakh, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Red Crescent in Gaza City, says there is no way more than one million people could be safely moved that fast.

“Forget about food, forget about electricity, forget about fuel. The only concern now is just if you’re going to make it, if you’re going to live,” Farsakh said, breaking into heaving sobs.

“What will happen to our patients?” she asked. “We have wounded, we have elderly, we have children who are in hospitals.” Farsakh said many of the medics were refusing to evacuate hospitals and abandon patients. Instead, she said, they called their colleagues to say goodbye.

Al Jazeera correspondent Safwat al-Kahlout says relatives are trying to figure out where they can even go if they move south.

“More than one million Palestinians are panicking, are confused, and they don’t have a plan, and they don’t understand what to do. Now my children are asking me, ‘Where should we go?’ I said, I don’t know.”

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