Residents of the Qatari-funded Hamad Town residential complex in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, gather with some of their belongings along a street as they prepare to flee their homes after receiving notification from the Israeli army of an imminent strike, on December 2, 2023. AFP
More than 40,000 people have been wounded, al-Qidra said.
Up until Saturday, the ministry had only been able to provide sporadic updates since Nov. 11, amid problems with connectivity and major Israeli attacks and incrusions into hospitals.
Israel intensified a renewed offensive that followed a weeklong truce, giving rise to concerns about civilian casualties, even as the United States urged ally Israel to do everything possible to protect civilians.
“This is going to be very important going forward," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday after meetings with Arab foreign ministers in Dubai, wrapping up his third Middle East tour since the war started. "It’s something we’re going to be looking at very closely.”
Many of Israel's attacks Saturday were focused on the Khan Younis area in southern Gaza, where the occupation army said it had struck more than 50 targets with airstrikes, tank fire, and its navy.
The aarmy dropped leaflets the day before warning residents to leave but, as of late Friday, there had been no reports of large numbers of people leaving, according to the United Nations.
“There is no place to go,” lamented Emad Hajar, who fled with his wife and three children from the northern town of Beit Lahia a month ago to seek refuge in Khan Younis.
“They expelled us from the north, and now they are pushing us to leave the south.”
Israel's military said it also carried out strikes in the north and hit more than 400 targets all across the Gaza Strip.
Some 2 million people — almost Gaza's entire population — are crammed into the territory’s south, where Israel forced people to relocate at the war’s start and has since vowed to extend its ground assault. Unable to go into north Gaza, their only escape is to move around within the 220-square-kilometer (85-square-mile) area.
In response to U.S. calls to protect civilians, the Israeli military released an online map, but it has done more to confuse than to help.
It divides the Gaza Strip into hundreds of numbered, haphazardly drawn parcels, sometimes across roads or blocks, and asks residents to learn the number of their location in case of an eventual evacuation.
“The publication does not specify where people should evacuate to,” the U.N. office for coordinating humanitarian issues in the Palestinian territory noted in its daily report. “It is unclear how those residing in Gaza would access the map without electricity and amid recurrent telecommunications cuts.”
In the first use of the map to order evacuations, Avichay Adraee, the Israeli army’s spokesperson, specified areas in the north and the south to be cleared out Saturday in posts on X.
He listed numbered zones under the evacuation order - but the highlighted areas on the maps attached to his post did not match the numbered zones.
Egypt has expressed concerns the renewed offensive could force Palestinians to cross into its territory. In a statement late Friday, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said the forced transfer of Palestinians “is a red line."
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, who was in Dubai on Saturday for the COP28 climate conference, was expected to outline proposals with regional leaders to “put Palestinian voices at the center” of planning the next steps for the Gaza Strip after the war, according to the White House. U.S. President Joe Biden's administration has been emphasizing the need for a two-state solution, with Israel and a Palestinian state coexisting, which Israel has been opposing for decades.