A devastating explosion struck a convoy on a vital evacuation route in Gaza, resulting in multiple casualties, including several children. This incident occurred as the region faces a looming deadline for a possible Israeli ground assault.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) urged civilians in and around Gaza City to relocate southward to evade potential involvement in Israeli military operations. They declared a six-hour evacuation window to take place on Saturday.
Israel has deployed troops and military equipment near the Gaza border while continuing to bombard the densely populated region in response to a series of attacks by Hamas, the Islamist militant group, on October 7.
Verified videos reveal extensive destruction at the site of the Friday blast on Salah Al-Deen Street. Several lifeless bodies, including children, are visible on a flat-bed trailer, which appears to have been used for transporting individuals away from Gaza City. Severely burned and damaged vehicles can also be seen in the vicinity.
Even before the evacuation announcement, over 400,000 Palestinians had already been internally displaced due to a week of intensified hostilities, resulting in deteriorating conditions within the heavily bombarded territory.
Nonetheless, the evacuation advisory and the potential for an incursion have been met with strong condemnation from various human rights organizations, including the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The head of OCHA cautioned that such a move could lead to “catastrophic humanitarian consequences.”
On Saturday, the IDF disclosed that it would allow residents to travel south along specified Gaza streets “for their own safety” from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. local time. The IDF’s Arabic spokesperson, Avishay Adraee, shared the statement on X (formerly Twitter).
The IDF asserted that Hamas leaders had taken precautions to safeguard themselves in the area. However, the extent to which this information has reached the population remains uncertain, given the current electricity and internet blackout.
When asked about the communication of the six-hour window to Gaza’s citizens, IDF spokesperson Maj. Doron Spielman indicated that “everybody in Gaza City now knows exactly what’s happening.” He confirmed that leaflets had been dropped to inform residents about the IDF’s announcement.
Nevertheless, reports from a United Nations Relief and Works Agency school official, a paramedic, and a journalist on the ground suggest that they were unaware of this latest advisory on Saturday.