In Gaza, Chaos

Bad to worse. With more to come.

Israel on Friday told 1.1 million people to evacuate northern Gaza, a likely precursor to a ground invasion aimed at eradicating Hamas in retaliation for last weekend’s horrific attacks which left 1,200 Israelis dead.

“Civilians of Gaza City, 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,” the military said.

The UN begged Israel to rescind the order, calling it a recipe for a humanitarian crisis of potentially catastrophic proportions. “The United Nations considers it impossible for such a movement to take place without devastating humanitarian consequences,” spokesman Stephane Dujarric warned. Nebal Farsakh, of the Palestinian Red Crescent in Gaza City, echoed those sentiments.

The IDF said there’s no specific deadline on the order and conceded it’ll “take time.” For their part, Hamas urged citizens to resist, calling the order a “disgusting” example of “psychological warfare.” “Remain steadfast in your homes and stand firm,” the group said.

Israel’s directive calls on Gazans to get south of the Wadi Gaza. The logistical hurdles for locals are myriad. For one thing, Israel bombed the roads, deliberately or otherwise, and not everybody has a car. Then there’s the problem of finding shelter and locating resources in a region where necessities are surely even more scarce than they are in more populated areas of the enclave.

The UN’s Dujarric said the order was applicable to UN staff and Palestinians sheltered at UN facilities, which include health clinics and schools. The implication seemed clear enough: UN personnel who choose to ignore the order are putting themselves at risk. “Forget about food, forget about electricity, forget about fuel, the only concern now is just if you’ll make it,” Farsakh despaired. “If you’re going to live.”

Hamas claimed Friday that Israeli airstrikes had already killed 13 hostages. An IDF spokesman said Israel doesn’t believe that. “We have our own information,” Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari told Al-Jazeera, without elaborating. Hopefully, for the hostages’ sake, the IDF’s information gathering capabilities have improved over the past six days.

Nearly 1,600 Palestinians are dead so far, according to Gaza’s health ministry. At least 500 are (or were) children. Nearly 7,000 are wounded. “We can’t evacuate hospitals and leave the wounded and sick to die,” the ministry said, flatly. A spokesman noted that even if the hospitals tried to move the sick and wounded, there isn’t anywhere else to take them.

As panic spread among the populace, Dujarric was adamant: The evacuation order is poised to make “what is already a tragedy into a calamitous situation.” The UN Security Council was scheduled to hold an emergency meeting on Friday afternoon.

Although another IDF official said Israel intends to take “extensive” steps to “avoid harming civilians,” Hagari was reluctant to make promises. Asked by the press if Israel would protect UN facilities and hospitals, he demurred. “If Hamas prevents residents from evacuating, the responsibility lies with them. It’s a war zone.”


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29 thoughts on “In Gaza, Chaos

  1. Never ending war crimes by GOI and its USG supporters. Like the Gazans are stupid enough for Nakba2? It’s all about a real estate grab and ethic cleansing of Gaza. I bet you can buy a settler condo with no money down already with “pre-construction” prices.

  2. It is a six to ten mile trip for most.

    UN protestations imply Israel should not enter Gaza City, or civilians should stay amid the fighting. Which, unintentionally, lines up with what Hamas wants.

    After 10/7, there is no way out: Israel will fight Hamas on the ground in Gaza City. Civilians should start walking.

    1. Yeah. Sorry, John, but that’s a ridiculous comment. You expect 1.1 million people, many of whom are impoverished, to just pick up and walk 10 miles to nowhere? This isn’t packing up the family in a nice SUV and driving to a countryside vacation home. You’re talking about a million people dragging whatever they have (including babies) down bombed-out roads with airstrikes ongoing.

      1. Six to ten miles travel on foot, or stay in Gaza City. Bad choices, but the only choices.

        The IDF is going to fight Hamas on the ground in Gaza City until one or the other is destroyed. That was guaranteed by 10/7. No third-party commentary will change it. Telling civilians to stay in Gaza City is the same as telling Israel to stay out or telling civilians to stay and get killed in much larger numbers. The former ineffectual, the latter unwise.

        The destruction to come in Gaza City is, I think, greater than the destruction to date. How many buildings are in the city, how many house Hamas tunnels and fighting positions? How many IDF troops? How many men is IDF willing to lose per building cleared, considering it will still have the rest of Gaza to deal with? When is it preferable (militarily) to destroy the building?

        Look at Fallujah as a guide to what to expect. About 60% the population of Gaza City, about 3K insurgents and 14K US/other troops involved. Large majority of population left before the fighting. Most buildings significantly damaged or destroyed. Might surmise the fighting in Gaza City will be more intense.

        My family fled Japanese, then Communist, troops, for years. My grandmother and her four small children, in trucks, wagons, and on foot, slept in fields, machine gunned by aircraft. They traveled hundreds of miles that way. I recently re-read their memoir. A long time ago, but nothing changes.

        Six to ten miles. I hope people go.

        1. I agree John, as horrible as it sounds, much better to pack as much food/water as you can, grab your kids and try and get as far away from these Hamas terrorists as possible, I know thats what I would be doing, maybe head a couple of miles to the mediterranean and get a boat. Infuriates me how the cowards that make up Hamas would hide in the schools, hospitals and among all the innocent people. Disgusting….

          1. “As horrible as it sounds.” Yeah, it sounds pretty horrible. And let’s not forget that it’s real for 1.1 million people today. 1.1 million people. That’s their reality right now, as you and I sit here, in our comfortable homes and offices, making bold declarations about what we’d surely do if we were in that situation from behind our keyboards and computer monitors.

          1. H, I believe Hamas claimed a “convoy of women and children” leaving Gaza City was struck – opinions about the credibility of the “no Israeli children were killed” group may vary. I also read that Israel hit a tunnel entrance near the Rafah border crossing into Egypt, that crossing is closed tightly by Egypt anyway.

            Yes, moving about in Gaza City is risky (passing by a building when it gets hit by an air strike) and some will get killed evacuating, but I think it will be much, much worse if they stay.

      1. The countries there remember 1970 Jordan/PLO and none want large numbers of Palestinian refugees. Maybe Eqypt can be persuaded to temporarily admit wounded, children, elderly – but would Hamas let them go?

    1. With what? The UN army? Or the ICJ SWAT team? The UN is there to take care of civilians. You want humanitarian workers to deputize themselves and do what? Run up to armed militia yelling “Citizen’s arrest! Citizen’s arrest!” like Gomer Pyle?

      1. The problem here is that Western observers, even if they won’t admit it, view Gazans as expendable if it means eradicating Hamas. Sorry, but you can’t kill (or imperil) a million people to catch or kill 20,000. You just can’t. You’ve gotta figure out another way. Otherwise, here’s what’s going to happen. 1) You kill, say, 75,000 people, 90% of whom are civilians; 2) you injure another 200,000; 3) you displace the entire population of Gaza; 4) you get another migrant/refugee crisis; 5) you get delirious kamikazes running around Israel and probably around Western capitals too, yelling about how great God is while they blow stuff up and shoot at random people; 6) you might get a war with Iran, who you can’t invade; 7) you have to go to Washington and say “Hey, we’re going to war with Iran now, we’re going to need you to make sure we win.” What happens if China then says “Hey, Washington, if you go along with this, we’re going to back Iran”? Then you’ve got a real big problem.

        1. Well said Mr. H. From a wider perspective, this is a war between Israel and Iran (Hamas being Iran proxy). And Iran would happily like to further isolate Israel from the world by provoking them to commit a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza. The million plus citizens of Gaza truly have nowhere to go. Such anguish suffered by the average citizens of Gaza would also be seen as a justification for Hezb. to attack from the North. And with a 2 front war Bibi would have every incentive to escalate and draw US into a regional war.

        2. My point is that if nobody else (e.g. the International Community) is willing to act, then criticizing Israel’s actions would be hypocritical. I did not wish to presume the replies to my question and preferred to wait until these replies were posted. Now that nobody external to Israel is going to act (according to replies here), what should Israel do?

          1. Something other than what they’re about to do. Because we all know how this is going to end: With tens of thousands of dead civilians in Gaza, probably a hundred thousand injured, a hopeless occupation plagued by a slow-burning insurgency that’ll kill Israeli soldiers a few a time for the duration of the occupation and a humanitarian crisis that’ll rival Yemen for the worst in the world. And that’s if it goes “well.” There are any number of ways it could go much worse than that. If they try to occupy the entire Gaza Strip (which they’ll have to if they really want to wipe out Hamas), you’re talking about door-to-door searches and possible years of what’ll amount to martial law in a place where the locals will always be hostile. Every, single door knock will come with a non-negligible chance of being shot at or blown up. There’s no happy ending here. The “best” option was probably to just send commandos in there after those hostages, then try to take out the leaders both within Gaza and also in Lebanon and wherever else they are. If the broader question is, “Well, what is Israel supposed to do to make their state completely safe? What about the rockets? And the constant security threat?” the answer, unfortunately, is that it’ll never be completely safe by virtue of where it is. People are going to fire rockets into Israel forever. It’s never going to stop. Somebody is always going to be shooting at them over there, just like somebody was always shooting at the US when we occupied Afghanistan and Iraq. You have to separate arguments about whether they “should” be allowed to live in peace and whether they have a “right” to that land from the on-the-ground reality, which is that the locals are never (ever) going to concede the point. And the problem is always the same: A lot of those locals are willing and ready to die about it. So threatening to kill them isn’t always an especially effective deterrent, even if the threat is 100% credible, which it plainly is when it comes from the IDF. Is that frustrating? Sure. Is it insane? Yes! But it’s reality over there and nothing’s ever going to change it.

  3. Until this morning, I had the (GOP-fueled) notion that the Biden Administration won’t “stop” until it locks up all 30 million Trump supporters to be the most ridiculous on earth. (Compare to fewer than 2 million people currently incarcerated in the US — shameful nonetheless). But demanding a million people evacuate their prison post-haste is easily a chart topper.

    I can’t relate because I’ve only ever been forcefully evacuated from Ocracoke Island due to hurricanes while on vacation (twice). So the best analogy I can come up with to the Gaza crisis is that this must be what it’s like when you are taken hostage, and then your hostage-taker is taken hostage, and the only thing people talk about is which hostage-taker is better looking.

  4. I am a bit disappointed to see so many governments so quick to line up behind Israel. What Hamas did is inexcusable but there is a lot of history behind all of this. How did the Jewish people get this land, did the Palestinians have any involvement in that process? Did the Jews come in and politely ask the people, who had lived there for generations, to leave? What did that look like when they took that land? Can you imagine being a modern day Palestinian living in thier current conditions with that history. Unfortunately for the Jewish people they didn’t have infectious diseases on their side.

    1. What it looked like was exactly the same as it looked when our forefathers did the same thing to the indigenous peoples who were the resident owners of the property we now call the US. We killed them, imprisoned them, relegated them to so-called reservations, took their lands, destroyed their possessions, eradicated their food supply and then called these war crimes “Manifest Destiny:” you know, just the same.

  5. I am a bit nervous for the coming weekend.. I think Israel is about to take action that could only be described as genocide on a largely innocent population, and are walking right into the hands of Hamas/the Iranians, as I don’t believe the gulf states will be able to maintain their current carefully managed equanimity if Israel annihilate thousands of civilians (despite pragmatic leaders, their populations will not stand for it).. Blinken is trying his best to get the Israeli’s to see sense, but Netanyahu knows the US population basically have his back so can look through the state department to the electorate..

    1. I feel the same except I have this twinge. Remember, every major nation and former (or present-day) colonial power has done the same thing to people it wanted to displace so it could steal the fruits of their labors. From Alexander, to Caesar to Attila, to the Spanish rape of South America, to the Australian subjugation of its aboriginal peoples, to the enslavement of random Africans by the West, the taking of the entirety of the US, we the people of the world collectively have deep pools of experience, both as victims and subjugators.

    2. I think there will be a war in a city, with the civilian suffering that wars in cities always bring. It will not be new or different. No-one has figured out how to fight in a city without destroying it. The only thing that can be done is to get civilians out of the city. Or to not have a war, but I don’t think that is possible any more.

  6. Years ago, I was listening to a radio broadcast, interviewing a gun-control advocate ( a position that I’m in total agreement with ).
    Later in the interview, the question was posed to him on what he would do if someone broke into his home and killed his family. “Kill them”, was his reply.
    There’s never a good reason to murder anyone. Intellectually, I think most of the world’s population would agree.
    Emotionally, when murder becomes personal, primal instincts will take over.
    There’s going to be a lot of innocent people killed.

  7. I’ve found the focus on whether Israel was given intel to be very aggravating. Were we as a culture also so obsessed with assigning blame in the past? What good does it do?

    Though I suppose the century of blaming yellow people, jews and immigrants for every problem does qualify as “who was to blame” treatment.

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