Some 1.1 million residents of the northern Gaza Strip woke up Friday morning to a warning from the Israeli military instructing them to leave their homes and relocate to the southern part of the blockaded coastal enclave. The announcement caused panic and uncertainty among the population. Some perceived it as a psychological warfare tactic and others fled their homes out of fear for their safety.
The warning was published on Facebook by the Arabic-language spokesperson for the Israeli army, Avichay Adraee. “You will not be allowed to return to Gaza City except after the issuance of a statement permitting it. Approaching the fence area with Israel is prohibited,” he wrote. Later in the day, Israeli planes dropped leaflets with the same message.
Videos of individuals hurrying south on foot, by car or wagon were widely shared on social media. Some Gaza residents expressed their determination to remain in their homes and defy the Israeli directives.