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Israeli military steps up warnings to north Gaza residents, preparations for ground offensive

Israeli military steps up warnings to north Gaza residents, preparations for ground offensive

by host

“Urgent warning!” the message read. “To the residents of Gaza: your presence to the North of Wadi Gaza is putting your lives at risk. Anyone who chooses not to evacuate from the North of the Gaza Strip to the South of the Gaza Strip may be identified as a partner in a terrorist organization.”

The IDF also said plans for “expanded operational activities” had been approved recently, including ground operations, and that both regular and reserve service members were being deployed and were conducting training exercises.

“We will achieve what is required with the spirit of battle and determination in order to bring security to our people for many years to come,” said IDF LTC Or Volozhinsky, commander of the 188th Armored Brigade.

Israel last week warned Palestinians in Gaza to evacuate the northern area of the strip ahead of a potential ground invasion, leading to the displacement of many residents to southern Gaza.

An IDF spokesperson said Israel plans to increase strikes on Gaza starting Saturday, the Associated Press reported.

Aid deliveries began moving Saturday into the territory, where water, food and medicine have been in short supply.

When asked about the leaflets Saturday, IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus told MSNBC that the message was “lost in translation,” as it had been rendered from its original Hebrew to Arabic, and then to English.

“The short message is: vacate, evacuate Northern Gaza. No matter where you are. Whatever facility you’re in, there’s gonna be significant combat, and vacate Northern Gaza,” Conricus said.

The IDF spokesperson also insisted that the message was not intended to label residents of North Gaza as terrorists but that it instead aimed to warn Gazans not to become a “pawn” of Hamas.

“The essence that we are telling civilians is, you are in a dangerous place — we don’t want to label anybody a terrorist. But people who stay in Northern Gaza are endangering their own lives. Therefore, if you want to be safer, go south. Do not listen to Hamas. Don’t be a pawn in their game of keeping human shields. Go south, and be safer.”

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on Saturday called for protection of civilians and the sparing of civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, schools, and U.N. premises, from Israeli bombardment.

Hamas’ “reprehensible assault” on Israel “can never justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people,” Guterres said at a summit Egypt is hosting on the Israel-Gaza war.

Guterres pointed to the “the wider context” of war, saying that the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is “the only realistic foundation for a true peace and stability,” according to the AP.

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