Hamas claims 70 people, mostly women and children, are killed in Israeli airstrike as they fled Gaza City

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Hamas officials say that 70 people, mostly women and children, have been killed in Israeli airstrikes on convoys fleeing Gaza City. 

The group’s media office said cars were struck in three places as they headed south from Gaza City. 

It was not immediately clear who the target of the airstrikes was, or whether militants were among the passengers. The reports have not been confirmed. 

The Israeli army told 1.1 million Gazans to evacuate and flee south earlier on Friday ahead of an expected ground invasion.

A child mourns after his relative killed in Israeli attacks in Gaza City, Gaza on October 13, 2023. The number of Palestinians killed from a massive Israeli air campaign against the Gaza Strip has risen to 1,799, the Health Ministry said Friday

Palestinians evacuate a wounded youth after an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Friday, Oct. 13, 2023

Doctors examine a child injured as a result of Israeli attacks at Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis, Gaza on October 13, 2023

Smoke and fire rise from an explosion after an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, near the southern border. 70 were reported to have died in strikes while fleeing south at an undisclosed location

Rafah, near the southern border, has been hit hard in recent days – as Palestinians flee 

Civilians were seen today fleeing by car, on trucks and by foot after the announcement.

READ MORE: Gaza civilians vow ‘death is better than leaving’ as many refuse to evacuate ‘hellhole’ despite Israel saying Hamas are using them as human shields, and UN warning ‘noose around the population is tightening’ 

Both the United Nations and the World Health Organisation have urgently called on Israel to revoke the order, saying it will result in a humanitarian disaster whether people can flee or not.

With power supplies cut and food and water in the Palestinian enclave running short after a week of retaliatory air strikes and a full Israeli blockade, the U.N. said Gaza’s civilians were in an impossible situation. 

‘The noose around the civilian population in Gaza is tightening. How are 1.1 million people supposed to move across a densely populated warzone in less than 24 hours?’ U.N. aid chief Martin Griffiths wrote on social media. 

More than 80 per cent of Gaza’s population rely on humanitarian aid – which the EU said it would ‘review’ earlier this week – and most lack access to a vehicle.

Much of Gaza’s infrastructure has been damaged, making it difficult to travel by car in any case. 

Earlier this week, an IDF spokesperson told those who could to escape via the southern Rafah crossing into Egypt – before the IDF conducted airstrikes on the area.

The IDF’s international media spokesman, Lt. Col. Richard Hecht, had said: ‘Rafah crossing is still open. Anyone who can get out, I would advise them to get out.’ 

The military later clarified: ‘In recent days, the IDF has been instructing the population inside of the Gaza Strip to distance themselves from designated areas.

‘We emphasise that there is no official call by Israel for residents of the Gaza Strip to exit into Egypt.’ 

People are seen leaving to the southern safer parts by whatever vehicles they can find with their belongings after the United Nations reported that the Israeli army wanted 1.1 million civilians in Gaza to leave their homes

The order has sent panic through civilians and aid workers already struggling under Israeli airstrikes and a blockade, while the United Nations called such an evacuation ‘impossible’ that would turn an tragedy into calamity. Pictured: Children are seen in a Gaza City hospital

Smoke plumes billow during Israeli air strikes in Gaza City on October 12

International onlookers have called the hurried evacuation of Gaza ‘utterly inhumane and impossible’.

Amitabh Behar, Oxfam International Executive Director, said today: ‘We implore the international community to use its utmost influence to intervene – there are hospitals full of patients, women, children and elderly people who cannot move.

‘Even for those who could move, there is no food, no water and little shelter. This must be stopped.

‘Oxfam staff are sending us terrifying messages; they are sheltering in their homes or displaced with their extended families, some trying to find safety in hospitals that have already been damaged by airstrikes. 

‘They are in darkness, pleading to know what is happening. One last message received told us “Please pray for us, and forgive us if we don’t end up making it through this tough time.” 

‘It is incumbent upon Israel to obey international humanitarian law; they must distinguish between military and civilian targets. We call on it to immediately recall this order and allow humanitarian aid into Gaza.’ 

Médecins Sans Frontières, said this evening that Israel had given Al Awda Hospital in Gaza ‘just two hours to evacuate’.

‘Our staff are still treating patients,’ the group wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

‘We unequivocally condemn this action, the continued indiscriminate bloodshed and attacks on health care in Gaza. We are trying to protect our staff and patients.’ 

The group, named Doctors Without Borders in English, is a charity that provides humanitarian medical care.

Some 6,000 remain wounded in hospitals, which are expected to run out of power and supplies within days, Al Jazeera reported today. 

Medical professionals shared distressing accounts of the bleak situation in Gaza without power as they are rendered unable to properly attend to the wounded amid Israeli strikes.

Ghassan Abu Sitta, a surgeon, wrote on X on Tuesday, only a day after the siege began: ‘The hospitals, because of the siege, are so short of supplies that we had to clean a teenage girl with 70% body surface burns with regular soap because the hospital is out of chlorehexidine (antiseptic).’

This aerial view shows a house hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, in Ashkelon on October 13, 2023

Some 22,600 residential units have been destroyed in Gaza under Israel’s bombardment 

On Monday, Israel ordered a ‘complete siege’ of Gaza, cutting off power and fuel to the Strip

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