The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on Friday ordered residents of populous Gaza City to evacuate southward in 24 hours. Following the call, which drew wide condemnation, the IDF revealed it had launched ground "localized raids" into the besieged Palestinian enclave, reported Xinhua.
Citing safety and protection, the IDF ordered in the morning all civilians in the city to move south in the Gaza Strip, saying they would be able to return "only when another announcement permitting it is made," and warning that the Israeli military would "continue to operate significantly" in Gaza in following days.
The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), which controls the Gaza Strip and at war with Israel, dismissed Israeli army's call as disseminating "false propaganda" in an attempt to wage a "psychological war," while urging Gaza-based Palestinians to "remain steadfast" at home, according to a statement issued by its organ for refugee affairs.
The evacuation call sparked condemnation from the Arab League and regional countries like Türkiye, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said "moving more than 1 million people across a densely populated warzone to a place with no food, water, or accommodation, when the entire territory is under siege, is extremely dangerous — and in some cases, simply not possible."
Guterres called for immediate humanitarian access throughout Gaza so that fuel, food and water can be provided to people in need. He called for the protection of civilians and the immediate release of hostages in Gaza.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the United Nations agency in charge of Palestinian Refugees, announced in the morning that it has relocated its central operations center and international staff to southern Gaza to continue its operations while urging Israel to protect civilians in its shelters.
Since a fresh round of fierce fight between Hamas and Israel began on Oct. 7, Israel has launched hundreds of airstrikes against targets in Gaza. So far more than 1,843 Palestinians in Gaza and more than 1,300 Israelis have been killed.
At least 13 hostages captured by Hamas were killed in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza in the past 24 hours, Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, said Friday.
The Israeli army announced that it attacked about 750 targets Thursday night in the Gaza Strip, including underground tunnels, military compounds and sites, homes of officials, weapon depots, and communication rooms, in addition to eliminating activists.
The IDF said that an "extensive attack" against Hamas targets was continuing Friday night, and remotely manned aircraft were striking Hezbollah targets in Lebanon.
This was after it announced that infantry and armored forces had raided Gaza in the past 24 hours to thwart "terrorist infrastructure and terrorist cells found in the area," including a site for launching anti-tank fires into Israeli territory, and a rocket launcher in northern Gaza.
The Israeli troops also made an effort to locate missing people before withdrawing from the Palestinian enclave, the IDF said in a statement.
Meanwhile, clashes surfaced in East Jerusalem between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters. Hamas has called on those supporting the Palestinian people around the world to hold a "Day of Rage." According to local media, more than 2,500 Israeli police officers and volunteers were deployed in East Jerusalem to prepare potential conflicts.
Also on Friday, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant in Israel, a day after the visit of U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
"The security assistance will continue," Austin said at a joint press conference with Gallant, referring to the continuous supply of military aid to Israel, including munitions and air defense interceptors, among other resources.
Families of about 150 hostages who were taken to Gaza by Hamas gathered in Tel Aviv on Friday morning to form an organization in a bid to urge the Israeli government to work to bring their loved ones home, local media have reported.
In south Lebanon, a Lebanese photographer was killed and six other reporters were injured Friday evening from Israeli attacks on the village of Alma al-Shaab, Lebanese TV channel MTV reported.