Some 100,000 Israelis internally displaced by war with Hamas, says Defense Ministry

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

The Defense Ministry says some 100,000 Israelis may be internally displaced amid the ongoing war in the Gaza Strip and escalating skirmishes on the Lebanon border.

According to ministry officials, the numbers are broken down into two main categories: those who have been fully evacuated from their homes, and those who are eligible “to rest and refresh themselves” at state-subsidized guesthouses temporarily.

Some 15,000 Israelis living in 25 communities up to four kilometers from the Gaza Strip were evacuated last week, and another 27,000 Israelis living in 28 towns up to two kilometers from the Lebanon border are expected to be evacuated in the coming days.

The state will be responsible for these Israelis until the military allows them to return to what is now a closed military zone near the Gaza border and a restricted area near Lebanon.

Additionally, infrastructure in southern communities will need to be repaired before people can return.

Separately, some 35,000 residents of Sderot and 23,000 Israelis living in 29 towns between four and seven kilometers from Gaza are eligible to go and “rest and refresh themselves” for a week at state-subsidized guesthouses.

Ministry officials say not all of those living in those areas have taken the opportunity to leave at this stage.

The ministry is also looking at potentially providing the “rest and refresh” opportunity to some residents of the southern coastal city of Ashkelon, including those without adequate bomb shelters.

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