As the Israeli military told the civilians of Gaza City to “evacuate south for your own safety and the safety of your families and distance yourself from Hamas terrorists who are using you as human shields,” many Palestinians faced the threat of forced displacement.
The UN Palestinian refugee agency described this call as “horrendous,” and it was met with defiance as mosques broadcast messages urging residents to “hold on to your homes” and “hold on to your land.”
Gaza’s population is unable to flee the enclave as they have nowhere to go, with the most obvious exit being through Egypt, which rejects the establishment of safe corridors for refugees.
According to Reuters, Egypt has reportedly discussed plans with the United States and others to provide humanitarian aid through its border but rejects any move to set up safe corridors for refugees fleeing the enclave.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Amman that he “rejects the forced displacement” of Palestinians in Gaza, the official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported. He said such an event would constitute a “second Nakba.”
Eyad Al-Bozom, spokesman for the Hamas Interior Ministry, urged Arabs everywhere and especially in countries that have borders with Israel to support the people of Gaza.
“We tell the people of northern Gaza and from Gaza City, stay put in your homes, and your places. By carrying out massacres against the civilians, the occupation wants to displace us once again from our land,” he told a news conference.
Hamas rocket attacks on Northern Israel
In a dramatic escalation of Middle East tensions, Hamas launched its longest-range missile on Friday, reaching northern Israel before being intercepted following warning sirens. According to The Times of Israel, Israeli officials have deemed this the largest long-range rocket attack ever launched by Hamas. This comes in response to Israeli forces launching a sustained military campaign against the Gaza Strip, a reaction to a military offensive by Hamas in Israeli territories.
The conflict began last Saturday when Hamas initiated Operation Al-Aqsa Flood against Israel, a multi-pronged surprise attack including a barrage of rocket launches and infiltrations into Israel via land, sea, and air. Hamas said the operation was in retaliation for the storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem and Israeli settlers’ growing violence against Palestinians.
The Israeli military then launched Operation Swords of Iron against Hamas targets within the Gaza Strip. Israel’s response has extended into cutting water and electricity supplies to Gaza, further worsening the living conditions in an area that has reeled under a crippling siege since 2007.
Global Solidarity Protests
In show of solidarity, thousands of people worldwide have taken to the streets in support of the Palestinian cause. Demonstrations span the Arab and Muslim world, including Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Tunisia, Libya, and more. Even in nations with long-standing peace treaties with Israel, such as Jordan, large protests have emerged. Notably, Egypt’s Al-Azhar Mosque and Mecca’s Grand Mosque have echoed calls for a “free Palestine.”
Meanwhile, thousands took to the streets of Tehran and other Iranian cities on Friday, with some waving the flags of Iran, Palestine, and the Lebanese armed group Hezbollah, according to AFP. Iran supports Hamas financially and militarily, and referred to the Palestinian group’s Saturday attack on Israel as a ‘success,’ while insisting it had nothing to do with it.
‘No to the occupation! No to America,’ chanted demonstrators gathered in central Baghdad.
“Palestine, you are not alone; we are with you,” one speaker told a crowd gathered in the Afghan capital, Kabul. “We are poor, but we will do whatever we can. We can’t do much today, but we can use our feet and stand in your support.”
(Disclaimer: This news article was written by Mokokchung Times with inputs from agencies.)