Hamas, which has ruled Gaza since 2007, dismissed the order and called on Palestinians to “remain steadfast in your homes and to stand firm” in a statement calling the evacuation directive part of a “disgusting psychological war waged by the occupation.”
Nebal Farsakh, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Red Crescent in Gaza City, said more than 1 million people could not be safely moved that fast. U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said, “The United Nations considers it impossible for such a movement to take place without devastating humanitarian consequences.”
The directive was seen as a precursor to an expected Israeli ground offensive, though the Israeli military has not yet confirmed any plans. A ground offensive in Gaza would likely increase casualties on both sides in a war that already has killed more than 2,800 people, including 13 hostages Hamas claimed on Friday were killed by Israeli bombardments. There was no immediate Israeli comment.