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Israel orders evacuation of Gaza City to conduct 'counterterrorism operation'

Residents left Gaza City over the weekend following the order.
Residents left Gaza City over the weekend following the order. Copyright AP
Copyright AP
By Euronews with AP
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Israel claims to know the location of Hamas and Islamic Jihad infrastructure, operatives, weapons and detention Rooms within the UNRWA headquarters in Gaza City.

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Israel has issued an evacuation order for Gaza City, an area which has already faced widespread destruction since the start of the devastating war in the Palestinian enclave.

The demolished city’s remaining residents were seen leaving the area over the weekend. Some pushed the elderly and the injured on wheelchairs, while others carried young children on their shoulders.

The evacuation order could indicate an increase in Israeli military action in Gaza City, and residents have already reported intense bombing in the eastern and southern areas.  

It comes as ceasefire talks are expected to resume this week, with several officials saying the devastation caused by Israel's nine month offensive likely helped push Hamas to soften its demands.

Hamas has reportedly already dropped its longstanding demand that Israel promise to end the war permanently as part of any ceasefire deal. The sudden shift has raised new hopes for progress in the internationally brokered negotiations.

Aftermath of the Israeli airstrike on a UN-run school that killed dozens of people in the Nusseirat refugee camp in the Gaza Strip.
Aftermath of the Israeli airstrike on a UN-run school that killed dozens of people in the Nusseirat refugee camp in the Gaza Strip.Saher Alghorra/Copyright 2023, The AP. All rights reserved

So far, Hamas has demanded Israeli troops fully leave Gaza and that the war ends, while Israel insists it cannot and will not halt the war before the Palestinian militant group is eliminated. Postwar governance and security control of the enclave have also been contentious issues.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday boasted that military pressure — including Israel’s ongoing two-month offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah — “is what has led Hamas to enter negotiations”.

Netanyahu’s office said a team of Israeli negotiators will resume talks this week on a ceasefire with Hamas which had been stalled for weeks, signalling progress toward a deal to end the war in Gaza. But it also acknowledged there remain "gaps between the parties”.

Israel launched the war in Gaza after Hamas’ attack on 7 October 2023, in which militants stormed out of Gaza and into southern Israel, where they killed some 1,200 people — mostly civilians — and abducted about 250.

Since then, Israeli ground offensives and bombardments have killed more than 38,000 people in Gaza, according to the territory’s Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between combatants and civilians in its count.

The military action has also caused widespread devastation and a humanitarian crisis that has left hundreds of thousands of people homeless without adequate medical care and on the brink of famine, according to international officials.

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